Date: Sunday, January 27, 2019
3rd Sunday Ordinary Time C
We see a change occurring to the city of Buffalo. We ask what happened or came together to rejuvenate the city? Acknowledging the present social ills and challenges ahead we do notice a different look, increased investment and people wanting to live in the city. In our first reading, the Book of Nehemiah, Ezra, a priest and scribe, exhorts the people. They are depressed and lack resolve/energy to rebuild the City of Jerusalem still in ruin after their return from exile. He recognizes the malaise is spiritual. Calling an assembly, Ezra reads the Torah to renew their covenant faith. They are overcome with tears. Nehemiah, the governor, and Ezra tell the people to rejoice. “The Lord is your strength.” The public proclamation of the Word and catechetical explanation will, in time, become the synagogue service.
In the Gospel according to St. Luke, Jesus returns home to Nazareth and, as his custom, goes to the synagogue on the sabbath. He stands. A scroll of the Prophet Isaiah is handed to him. He finds the verses and 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.” Rolling up the scroll, he sits down. All in the synagogue look intently on him. Jesus says: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” It will become our Liturgy of the Word!
How often in moments of crisis and of celebration, in sickness and in health, do we hear the Word of God speaking to us that affirms life and lifts our burdens. Like the Jewish people who cry when Ezra reads the Torah, tears can flow. Like neighbors and family in the synagogue in Nazareth listening to Jesus, a hometown son, proclaim the Prophet, we too can be amazed at his gracious words. Like water over time smoothing and sculpting stone, the Word of God can transform even hard-hearted listeners. Like Holy Communion that we consume, the Word of God becomes incarnate in us. Christ is not only with us, Christ is within us.