Church of the

7580 Clinton Street
Elma, New York 14059


January 23, 2022

Third Sunday Ordinary Time C

We have odd saying “soap box” that refers to a temporary platform that elevates a speaker above the crowd to improve the chance of being seen and heard. Boxes from dry good stores were used for this purpose – thus a “soap box.” In church the elevated place to proclaim the Word is called the “Ambo” from the Latin and Greek word meaning “step” or “elevation.” It is a sacred place that honors the proclamation of the Word of God.

Our first reading, the Book of Nehemiah, takes us back 2500 years or 500 years before Christ and the Common Era. Jewish people are returning from exile in Babylon. They find the city of Jerusalem and temple in ruins. They are exhausted physically and spiritually. Nehemiah is the governor. Ezra is the priest. They recognize a hunger within those who have come home. Nehemiah and Ezra realize what must be done. An assembly is called near the Water Gate including men, women, and children. Ezra stands on a wooden platform so everyone can see and hear. He opens the scroll and blesses the Lord. The people respond, “Amen” and bow. Ezra reads the book of the Law, the Torah, plainly. Nehemiah and scribes offer commentary. After this “Liturgy of the Word,” the people disperse for a feast of rich food. The Jewish community is known as the People of the Book!

In the Gospel according to St. Luke, Jesus returns home to Nazareth and according to his custom goes to the synagogue on the Sabbath Day. Jesus stands to read. The scroll of the Prophet Isaiah is handed to him. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.” Rolling up the scroll and handing it back to the attendant, Jesus sits down and says, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” A one sentence homily!  Next Sunday we will hear the response of the “minyan,” the Jews present in the synagogue. What Jesus says in applying these verses from Isaiah to himself is Sacred Scripture is fulfilled in me. Can we imagine hearing Jesus speak to us as the Word of God?

Growing up the Liturgy of the Word was secondary at Catholic Latin Masses. It was understood that Catholics could miss the first part of the Mass and just come for the Offertory, Consecration and Communion and still fulfill their obligation. After the Second Vatican Council, the Latin Mass was translated into the vernacular and the Liturgy of the Word was once again seen as integral to our Sunday worship. Pope Francis has called the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time “Sunday of the Word.” It is an occasion to remind all of us how essential and important the Word of God is for Catholics. Jesus is present both in the Word and in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Saint Jerome, who translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, the vernacular of his day, stressed, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”  

We are growing in our appreciation of the living Word of God, written down in the Bible, proclaimed at Mass, explained in the homily, and then reflected upon during the week. It is our spiritual nourishment. Sacred Scripture underscores our bond the with Jewish Community – the People of the Book – and it is the source of our unity with Christian Churches. Please consider joining one of our Bible Study Groups announced in the bulletin. Those who do make a commitment testify how important breaking open and sharing the Word has become in their personal lives especially when they reflect on Scriptures with others.      





More Homilies

January 16, 2022

Second Sunday Ordinary Time

There are moments when we hear Scripture proclaimed at Mass and wonder if we heard correctly. It happens today in the Gospel according to John at a wedding feast in Cana, Galilee. The mother of Jesus is present, and Jesus and his disciples have been invited too. A wedding is a weeklong celebration. The wine is running short. The mother of Jesus brings this concern to her s...


January 09, 2022

Baptism of the Lord

With our custom of child baptisms, celebrating the birth of Jesus on December 25th and then his baptism on January 9th seems like a feasible timeline but we should remember that Jesus is no longer a baby – he is thirty something! Today, as we reflect on the adult baptism of Jesus, we can gain insight into the significance of our own baptism. In our Gospel today, St. L...


January 02, 2022


On Christmas we gathered with my nephew and his family. He showed me his gift to the family – a telescope. A sophisticated instrument he found on eBay that can see the crust and craters on our moon and the moons circling Jupiter. Human beings have always been fascinated by the night sky. Today is the Feast of the Epiphany. “Epiphany” means “manifestation” or “a...


December 25, 2021


Deacon Jim asked if I noticed the engraving on the marble square coming into the parish office. It will be the cover on a niche in the Committal Chapel in the cemetery. I didn’t. Looked again. It reads: “Rev. Eugene P. Ulrich, 1948 +     .” No year of my death. Immediately I thought of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol when the Ghost of Christm... READ MORE

December 19, 2021

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Our Gospel today is familiar to many. The evangelist recalls Mary’s “visitation” with her cousin Elizabeth. It is found only in the Gospel according to St. Luke but the verses of the conversation between Elizabeth and Mary are part of the Hail Mary and the encounter is one of the Joyful Mystery of the rosary. It has frequently been depicted in art. The “Visitation... READ MORE

December 12, 2021

Third Sunday of Advent

We light the third candle in our Advent Wreath. It is pink symbolizing joy. Our Scripture readings agree. The Jewish prophet, Zephaniah, the Psalmist and Saint Paul create a chorus encouraging us to be joyful. We need this encouragement during distressing times.  Zephaniah lives in Judah when the nation is threatened by imperial powers of Assyria, Egypt, and Babyl... READ MORE

December 05, 2021

Second Sunday of Advent

At the beginning of Mass a person or family comes down the center aisle to light the Advent candle. We sing a beautiful refrain: “Lead us to your light, lead us out of darkness. Lead us to your light. Come, Jesus, come.” During the Liturgy of the Word, Sacred Scripture becomes a light “to prepare the way of the Lord.” Today, the Second Sunday of Advent, our Word li... READ MORE

November 28, 2021

First Sunday of Advent

The words of Jesus in the Gospel according to Luke are ominous. “…on earth nations will be in dismay perplexed by the roaring of the sea and waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” We are living through a tumultuous time: we are facing the pandemic, refugee-migrant humanitarian ... READ MORE

Displaying Homilies -3 - 1 of 568


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