Sunday, January 24, 2016

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Jesus Restores

The readings today tell us of the beginning of the New People or the New Covenant.

In the first reading, we given a description of Ezra before an assembly of men, women and those children who are old enough to understand. Ezra opens a scroll and read to the people the Law. He then explain it to them. The people responded "amen amen" showing that they agreed with the content of the scroll and Ezra's explanation. What was going on here was the restablishment of the covenant after Israel was in exile. After Babylon was defeated, The king of Persia, Cyrus ordered that the Jews could leave freely.  They left and rebuilt the temple and the walls of the city of Jerusalem (Ezra 6:15-17,  Nehemiah 6:15).  Since the Jews were exiled, they lost track of the Law of Moses and what the Lord had revealed to their ancestors. Ezra's task as priest was to remind the people of the covenant and restablish the rules.  This reading ties in with the Gospel.  Without the Law, the Jews had no order or purpose. They became the slaves of other nations. Similarly, without God's law in our hearts, we become slaves to the world and all its vices (Romans 6:16). This is why we must abide by God's law as we read in the Psalm today.

God's word or His laws are Spirit and life. They are not just words on a stone tablet or paper (2 Corinthians 3:6).  These words are life itself. They are perfect and refresh the soul. Since they come from God, we can trust them (2 Samuel 7:28). God is not a deceiver (Numbers 23:19). He only wants what is best for us (Psalm 34:19). We must do our best to remain in God's law so that we can live in His grace and reach perfection (John 15:10).  This is why God left us His Catholic Church which is the body of Christ with Christ as her head as we read in the second reading (Colossians 1:18).

In the second reading, we are told that the body of Christ or His Church, is composed of many parts just like the human body. However, these parts, though different, form the ONE body of Christ. This is why the Catholic Church is the one and only true Church of Christ.  She is ONE. Christ can only have ONE body just like we each have one body. There cannot be 'churches' of Christ (Ephesians 4:5).  Only one Church is His Body and that Church is the Catholic Church. In this Church, all are one and equal (Galatians 3:28). While each one of us are different, we are One in Christ.  So "whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons.. we were all given to drink of the One Spirit." Each one of us has gifts given to us by God that we must put to work in order to spread the Gospel (1 Peter 4:10). Not everyone can do the same thing. One of us may teach, another may be a student. One of us may have the gift of healing, while another may have the gift of tongues or preaching. Regardless of what gift we have. The gift that we have does not make us better than anyone else. Like an organ in the body, it has its own function which is necessary to keep the entire organism of the human body alive. The Church is the New Covenant which was signed, sealed and delivered in the blood of the Lamb (Matthew 26:28, Hebrews 13:20). Jesus in the Gospel will speak to the crowd just as Ezra did.

In the Gospel, Jesus comes back to Nazareth where He grew up. As was His custom, He went to the synagogue on the sabbath day. While there, He read from the scroll of the prohet Isaah the passage found in Isaiah 61 which reads, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."  After reading this, He returns the scroll and tells the people present that "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." By saying this, Jesus confirms that He is the one who was sent to restore all things, including sight to the blind and glad tidings to the poor. Like Ezra, Jesus speaks before the people of Israel and reads from the Law (in this case, Isaiah). This is telling us that Jesus is restoring the covenant by making it new. The Law is no longer ink on paper. It is a living person; the Son of God walking among us (humanity) (Galatians 3:24).  It is in Jesus that we find perfection, unity and joy. Let us continue to listen to Jesus speak to us. Let us continue to remind ourselves that we must follow God's law so as to live happily and with purpose. May Jesus Christ be praised.      


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