3rd Sunday O.T. (C)
JESUS, SAVIOR, MESSIAH & THE LIVING WORD OF GOD
- The renewal of Israel in preparation for the Definitive Covenant.
- The Church, Mystical Body of Christ, symbol of God’s Perfect Covenant with His People.
- Fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy in Jesus Christ.
Dear friends, today’s Sunday liturgy has the WORD OF GOD as its central theme. Three figures were presented in the readings: Ezra, Paul, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the 1st reading, Ezra convokes the entire Jewish community who are old enough to understand and read the Book of the Law “from daybreak till midday” to them and to which “all rose” to their feet, “and listened attentively”.
- It is important to note how the Jews dedicate time to hear God’s Word and show their respect to it through their attention and posture. This is the reason why when we read the Gospel every Sunday during the Holy Mass, we rise to our feet because this liturgical posture denotes respect and attention towards God’s Word, and readiness to put it into effect in our daily life.
- At the same time, it is a good occasion for us to ask ourselves if we put enough attention to listen to God’s Word and dedicate some time to read the Bible, knowing that “Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life (Responsorial Psalm).”
- In the History of Salvation, God made use of Ezra and Nehemiah to reaffirm the faith of the people and renew their religious life, preparing them for a New and definitive Alliance, the Perfect Covenant of salvation and holiness which Christ sealed with His Blood.
This Perfect Covenant is mystically symbolized by St. Paul’s doctrine on the inseparable union between Jesus Christ and His Church as His Mystical Body: wherein, Jesus is the Head and we, all baptized in Him, are the different parts of members of His Body:
Brothers and sisters: As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. Now the body is not a single part, but many. You are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it (1 Cor 12:12–14, 17).”
- This Pauline doctrine as the unity of all the baptized, as members of Christ’s Body (=the Church), through His Spirit should lead us to be responsible Christians.
- As we all know, the illness of just one body part has repercussions to the entire Body and if we apply this to Christ’s Mystical Body, which is the Church, we would realize that whatever good or evil we do will have its corresponding effect on the spiritual health of the Church. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 791 teaches:
The body’s unity does not do away with the diversity of its members: “In the building up of Christ’s Body there is engaged a diversity of members and functions. There is only one Spirit who, according to his own richness and the needs of the ministries, gives his different gifts for the welfare of the Church.” The unity of the Mystical Body produces and stimulates charity among the faithful: “From this it follows that if one member suffers anything, all the members suffer with him, and if one member is honored, all the members together rejoice.”
Today’s Gospel (St. Luke 1:1–4; 4:14–21) recounts how Jesus read the passage from Isaiah 61:1-2 (see above) where the prophet announces the coming of the Lord, the Messiah, who will free his people of all their afflictions.
“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 handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing (Lk 4:18-21).”
- In Our Lord Jesus Christ, Isaiah’s prophecy —as well as those of the other prophets in the Old Testament— finds its fulfilment. THE NEW LAW, THE NEW COVENANT AND THE ULTIMATE LIVING WORD OF GOD THE FATHER IS JESUS HIMSELF IN PERSON. IN HIM, THE DIVINE REVELATION FOR THE ENTIRE HUMANITY IS FULFILLED.
- Thus, the Old Testament can only be rightly understood in the light of the New — as the risen Christ showed the Apostles when he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures (cf. Lk 24:45), an understanding which the Holy Spirit perfected on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:4).
- Furthermore, Jesus as the Anointed, the Messiah whom God has sent to his people, is the Salvation whom God sent to free us from our tribulation. He has been anointed by the Holy Spirit for the mission the Father has entrusted to him. According to St. Joh Paul in “Dives in misericordia, n. 3”:
“These phrases, according to Luke (vv. 18-19), are his first messianic declaration. They are followed by the actions and words known through the Gospel. By these actions and words Christ makes the Father present among men”.
- How does Christ make the Father and Holy Spirit present among men? How does Christ make present the salvific action of the Most Blessed Trinity throughout time? Through His Mystical Body and Spouse, the Church. “IN ORDER TO MAKE THIS ‘ENCOUNTER’ WITH CHRIST POSSIBLE, GOD WILLED HIS CHURCH. Indeed, the Church ‘wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life (Veritatis splendor n. 7).’”
- As the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 257 teaches:
“O blessed light, O Trinity and first Unity!” God is eternal blessedness, undying life, unfading light. God is love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the “plan of his loving kindness”, conceived by the Father before the foundation of the world, in his beloved Son: “He destined us in love to be his sons” and “to be conformed to the image of his Son”, through “the spirit of sonship”. This plan is a “grace [which] was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began”, stemming immediately from Trinitarian love. IT UNFOLDS IN THE WORK OF CREATION, THE WHOLE HISTORY OF SALVATION AFTER THE FALL, AND THE MISSIONS OF THE SON AND THE SPIRIT, WHICH ARE CONTINUED IN THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH.”
Dear friends, let us thank God for perpetuating his presence with us, always near us, never abandoning us, by founding His Church which makes Him present amog all men through her sacraments, preaching, liturgy and ministry. Let us be responsible Christians loving Christ’s Spouse, our Mother Church, knowing that our spiritual “health” as individual members will have repercussion on the other members of Christ’s Body. Let us dedicate more time in knowing God’s Word by reading a passage of the Gospel daily, in order to have a more profound knowledge of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s life which will eventually lead, with the help of God’s grace, to friendship and love.
Cordially inviting you to visit and like our FB page in www.facebook.com/CatholicsstrivingforHoliness or sign-up to our website,www.catholicsstrivingforholiness.com, so we can have a wider apostolic reach and thus help more people in their Christian life.
Thanks! Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei.