Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

Christopher J. Drennen, O.S.A.
Malvern Preparatory School
Malvern, Pennsylvania

Neh 8: 2-4a, 5-6, 8-10
Ps 19: 8, 9, 10, 15
I Cor 12: 12-30 or 12: 12-14, 27
Lk 1: 1-4; 4: 14-21

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” With these words Jesus begins his ministry in Galilee, in Nazareth where he had grown up. These words from the Prophet reveal who Jesus was to the people he had known most of his life. These words were a surprise because they would find it hard to accept that one of their own was the chosen one of God. They knew these words from Scripture and they had placed their hope that someday they would be fulfilled. But now? From one of their own?

Jesus chose this scripture because it defines what kind of a ministry he would have. He would not be a Messiah that conquered the oppressive overlords in a battle on a stunning white horse. Instead he would be a champion for the underdogs. He would bring glad tidings to the poor and liberty to the captives. He would give sight to the blind and freedom to the oppressed.

Jesus comes as a savior. Certainly we know he saves us from our sins and offers us salvation on the last day. But what about now, today? He offers us freedom today and everyday. He offers us glad tidings in our poverty of spirit and in material things. He sets us free from the things that hold us captive and gives us the sight of faith to see the reality of the present living God. When we feel oppressed, he sets us free.

Sometimes we live as if God has not already come to us in Jesus Christ. We feel overwhelmed by the struggles of today. Troubles and trials and difficulties of everyday life can seem like the last word. But, we are not alone. We are saved. We have the reality of Jesus Christ who sets us free. Sin and death have no more power over us. Jesus has freed us. We need to hear these words today with an open heart and ask where is Jesus saving us now? The answer might be in grand and dramatic events. Or, they might be in simple everyday moments where we breathe in the Spirit of God and let go of the power of sin that still is present in our lives. It is often in the simple moments that we need to remember our salvation. The powers of evil in the world are not only in the horrible tragedies that do touch us. Whenever we give into negative attitudes and sinful temptations in our lives, we are forgetting the power of Jesus’ salvation for us here and now.

Jesus proclaimed that the Spirit of God was upon him. But, the Spirit is also upon us in our Baptism. The Lord gives us the power to act as Jesus does. We too are called to believe that God is alive in our lives. And if God is alive, then we too are called to make a difference in the world, to bring good news to the poor and liberty to captives. God does not save us and then wants us to walk away. We are called to go forth. Again, not only in dramatic ways, but in everyday loving to change the world piece by piece, person by person, day by day. We are the instruments of bringing peace to the world by how we love one another and trust in the power of a saving God.

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians tells us that we are the Body of Christ. The important element here is the “we.” Each of us united to Christ are his body. By ourselves, alone we will not change the world. But as members of the Body, each with our own gifts, we will make a difference. We have the Spirit of God with us. We are one body. We need to act in unity, even with our different gifts. Once we incorporate ourselves into the one Body of Christ, everything changes. Christ is revealed through us, his members.

Ezra the priest in the first reading stands firm and faithful in proclaiming the Scriptures to the people of God. He does it in the Spirit of the Lord. We too are called to do it in the Spirit of the one Body of Christ. We can bring the Good News to those in need, not because we are better than anyone else, but because we are united to Christ. Today’s world can be a dark and ugly place. But, in Christ, we have the Spirit of the Lord. We are the Body of Christ. The Light does shine. We can be faithful. God has chosen us to be one with his Son. Let that light shine and let the darkness of sin be banished and the Spirit of Life flow through us.