Homily  Third Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C: Fr. Michael Ufok UdoekpoReadings: Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10; 1 Cor 12:12-30 and Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21
God’s Words are Spirit and Life to Everyone- In this Year of Mercy!
“Your Words Lord Are Spirit and Life (Verba tua, Domine, Spiritus et vita sunt!). Let us say that together: “Your Words Lord, are Spirit and Life”! What a beautiful, deep and spiritual response to our Psalm today, in fact, taken from John’s Gospel chapter 6, verse 63c! Think of it again. What Word? The Word that we have just heard. Scriptures, the Scrolls, the “Law and the Prophets” that we read, live, preach and listen carefully to, at every liturgy- at worship. The Word of God, Verbum Domini! The Word of love! The Word of unity! The Word of forgiveness! The Word of Christ! The teachings of Christ! The Word of peace! Divine words—holy and encouraging. These words give us strength to raise our families, to carry on our respective missions, our projects, our journeys, our vocations, our priesthood, our religious life! It is ever alive- the word of God, the values of Christ!
As they Jewish—men, women and children were returning from exile, that humiliating experience, to rebuild their homeland, their faith and dignity, their unity, their oneness, Ezra the priests, in company of a lay gentleman known as, Nehemiah brought this word of God, the Torah, the word of life, to the people. Ezra and Nehemiah read and taught the entire community these words of life. Those who listened to them were no longer the same. They were a changed people- filled with joy, strength and life- “Your words Lord, are Spirit and Life! (John 6:63c).
When Saint Paul, and apostle to the Gentiles encountered a broken, promiscuous and divided Gentile- Corinthian community, during his pastoral ministry and preaching- the word of God was Paul’s effective instrument. With the word of God Paul reminded the community that just as all parts of our bodies must work together to sustain the living body- members of Christ, the church, the baptized, Jews, Greeks and Gentiles must see themselves as brothers and sisters in Christ- and use their talents for the common good. Paul spoke words of love and unity to this divided Corinthian community! God’s words spoken through Paul, brought them spirit, and renewed their life.—“Your words Lord, are Spirit and Life!
In the Gospel of today Christ begins his public ministry ( Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21) by invoking, in Nazareth, his home town, the spirit of the Lord, the energy of the Lord, that Scripture offers us on every journey that we would want to embark upon: Quoting Isaiah 61, in the synagogue of his home town, Nazareth, Jesus says,
“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 bring liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
Each of us in our various life situations today- no matter how bad, or good, it may seems, how divided and broken we may seem to be, sometimes; can relate to the once exiled community of Ezra-Nehemiah, who has been restored to joy, strength, happiness and life in today’s first reading. We can relate to divided, boastful Corinthian community of today’s 2nd reading. Our talents, with the grace of God, can be channeled towards the common good!In fact, as it were in the Life of Christ, each of us can only stay focus, we can only attempt to do so much good, ----be good leaders, good teachers, good children, loving parents; fulfilling our spiritual and corporal works of mercy-in this Year Mercy- visiting the sick, the blind, those in prison; praying for the oppressed, protecting the unborn, forgiving those who may have offended us, accepting those born in cultures outside our own, and reaching out to the poor, the marginalized by being attentive listening, preachers and doers of the Word of God, which are spirit and life. May we all once again say together---Your words, Lord, are Spirit and Life.”