Third Sunday in Ordinary Time January 24, 2016
Reading 1 Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10
Responsorial Psalm Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 15
- Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life. Reading 2 1 Cor 12:12-30
Alleluia cf. Lk 4:18
- Alleluia, alleluia. The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, and to proclaim liberty to captives. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21
3rd Sunday, Ordinary Time, Year C, January 24, 2016
Several years ago I read an article in Time Magazine that I thought reflected current worldly thinking regarding other human beings that share common time and space with us on this earth. It was a tragic and sad story.
In Ecuador, outside the capital city of Quito, there is a slum city built on mud and muck. The houses are made of cardboard, corrugated tin and some wood. The only sanitation is an open drainage ditch running in front of the huts. The people who live there do not officially exist, as far as the government of Eduador is concerned. The inhabitants are not counted in the country’s census, nor do they have any rights, or influence, nor do the people have a way out.
Since they are squatters, Ecuadorian government officials appeared one day at the edge of this cesspool of humanity, and bulldozed the huts and hovels into the earth. The people of the slum city were helpless, and they had little option but to repeat the process of pasting together their small shacks on other land, that of course risked being bulldozed into the earth perhaps the next day, or week or month. These are the poor, the powerless throwaway people of our earth.
Although this is a rather dramatic story of the disregard of human life that exists in our world today, we can read stories like this almost every day in the newspaper and watch these stories take place as they happen on our evening news. We hear daily of refugees and immigrants seeking a better life, who are assaulted, raped and murdered.
These stories I share with you today have prompted me to ask: Who are the throwaway people in our lives, in our community? Who would we like to put in a corner and forget? Who is unnecessary? Who is more trouble than they are worth?
Two of our Scripture readings today help us focus on these questions and give us insight into the love and wisdom of God, and just how important each person is in the body of Christ. St. Paul tells us that no one is unnecessary if the Body of Christ is to be whole and healthy.
I was looking at our Nativity Parish pictorial directory this past week and glanced through its pages observing the photos and the names of our parish members. I reflected on the service and functions we share as a faith community – the Body of Christ.
Our Community has many parts. Some say a faith community should run like a well-oiled machine, a Fortune 500 company. I prefer St. Paul’s imagine of a human body, because a body has a heart and soul. There are many parts of our body- the body we call our faith community – our parish.
We have a pastor, our shepherd, deacons, ministers of the Eucharist, catechists, liturgy planners, lectors, pastoral council, committees and commissions, musicians, maintenance workers, and office staff.
We have the sick and those who care for them; we have the lonely and those who visit them. Volunteers address social justice issues; others share from their bounty. Some water the plants, some change light bulbs, and some change hearts.
This is only a brief listing of our functions in the Body of Christ, but keep in mind that each of us here today is also called to minister in the Body of Christ in our homes, places of work, our neighborhoods, and to the extended community.
We are also a suffering body. Throughout the world there are many of our sisters and brothers who are being tortured and killed for their faith. Others are living in subhuman conditions because of injustice.
Closer to home, many are unemployed. Many families right here in our parish have been touched by divorce, by AIDS, by alcoholism and drug abuse, by mental and emotional problems, by cancer and other diseases, and by domestic abuse --- verbal, sexual, psychological and physical abuse.
We often fail to recognize the lost or forgotten, even in our own families. We are poor and in need of God’s saving grace, love and mercy.
If one part suffers, all suffer. An arthritic joint may be a small part of the body, but when it hurts, the whole body suffers. We do not live in isolation. Ignoring a hurting person does not make the body well. Jesus did not ignore anyone who came to him in need.
Jesus came to bring Good News to the poor, liberty to captives, sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed, and a time of salvation for all. Jesus accepted his mission and spent his whole life doing it. He did it for us!
We are poor. We can’t save ourselves. We need God’s love, mercy and forgiveness.
We are captives and oppressed. Our lives are often controlled by money, possessions, destructive relationships, and the power to dominate others. We are sometimes held prisoner by false values, and Jesus wants to set us free.
We are blind. We are blinded by fear and worry, prejudice, pride or passion. Jesus wants to give us clear vision.
In God’s eyes, each of us is important. I mean you, and me, and the president and the Pope. No one of us is more important OR LESS important than another. Each of us is part of the Body of Christ.
We are anointed at our baptisms. We are anointed into the mission of Jesus, to become a priestly people --- to bring Good News of Jesus to those who share in our lives, and to set others free from oppression, blindness and captivity; to help bring the Body of Christ to wholeness; a body where no part is unnecessary, a body where no one should be made to feel discarded or unimportant.