As we continue to step further into the year, Sunday texts provide us with solid teaching to build ourselves, our communities, our churches and our society in the light of God’s word and in the clear direction of Jesus’ mission. We are urged to do this with joy and conviction.
Ezra the priest in the first reading reads to the people from the book of the Law. They are the newly returned from exile to rebuild the city walls and the Temple. Moved to tears, they are told, “Do not be sad; the joy of the Lord is your stronghold”.
Psalms 19 is a hymn of praise to God’s law. His words are spirit and life. St. Paul in the second reading tells us that through baptism we have all become members of the one body with Christ as our head. We are dependent on each other, sharing our gifts and our sorrows.
The gospel passage begins with St Luke’s opening preface, then moves on to show us Jesus newly returned from the desert after his baptism. In the synagogue, Jesus reads from the prophet Isaiah his own ‘mission statement’. He recognizes quickly that his responsibility was to reignite that faith in the hearts of many. He did this by proclaiming a simple message: God was still at work and was still committed to the plans he had revealed centuries before.
Jesus proclaimed with boldness and it led to the transformation of many. This boldness of Jesus should fascinate us in our Christian life and make it key to our Christian ministry. Let us ask ourselves how boldly do we proclaim the word of God in our faith communities and boldly live it.
As a small Christian community in a parish, what bold action prompted by the word of God can we take? As individuals what can we do to liberate ourselves and others? What must I do to reignite faith in my faith community? Jesus wants the captives to be free. He wants us to practice love and listening, be available to the young people in our community of faith and know them. Know what is making them captives of drugs addiction, terrorism and pornography, despair and boldly free them. The word become active and transformative when put into practice/action than mere reading and speaking. The community and persons, who allow the word to shape their attitudes towards one another, will know their social problems and how to liberate themselves from those problems. Today I recommend to you the small Christian communities way of reading the Word of God which shapes personal attitudes and is transformative:
As you open the Bible become aware of God’s presence.
Relax and be ready to meet him in the scripture
Know that you are relaxing under his loving gaze and be ready to listen.
Take up the psalm or the Gospel or the second reading slowly
Slowly go through the reading and note the striking words to you from it
Perhaps you can imagine Jesus in the synagogue setting. The people know him; he comes here on a Sabbath. As one of the crowds, what am I expecting from Jesus? What attitudes do I have about him and others? What is the abstract message from the reading? How can I make it real? Who needs my attention? When? How? Why? Spend some time pondering these questions.
Are you experiencing any resistance? Is there any joy?
Ask the Lord for his grace and strength, give thanks for the many ways you failed and see how God was present even in your failures to love him and your small Christian community or your parish. It could be your family, siblings or friends. Give thanks for the successes.
End your prayer and go and practice Jesus’ words.
Joy and Peace