YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: PROCLAIMING THE WORD OF GOD
BY: Christ in the Desert Monastery
HOMILY: My sisters and brothers in the Lord,
The Word of God is awesome! The Word of God is powerful! The Word of God is life changing! The power of the readings this Sunday compels us to determine in our hearts what the Scriptures mean to us. If we are truly believing Catholics, the Scriptures are the Word of God given for our salvation. It is important that we take time to read them and to digest them as the Church leads us through them in yearly cycles and toward them doctrinally. We can ruminate over the scriptures, remembering the source of the word ‘ruminate,’ that of a cow chewing and extracting all nutrients from its cud. Many people today have only a handed down religion which has not become a personal religion, lived out in complete faith. Incessantly, this is what the Lord is asking of us: believe in the Gospel!
The Prophet Nehemiah describes the fascination and relief of the Hebrews toward the once-lost-now-found text of the Law of the Jewish Scriptures. The people weep as they hear Ezra it read aloud to them. We use our imaginations and evoke a conquered people who had been taken into exile. When they find something that draws them nearer to their origins, deep emotions surface. In past and present times, the Word read aloud moves people and fills the voids in their hearts. Hollywood gives a contemporary example of the power of the read word.
The actress Kate Winslet in her Oscar winning performance portrays an illiterate, Nazi-era German woman in the movie, The Reader (2008), whose insatiable thirst for words read aloud (in this case, classic literature) excelled even her passion for her paramour who reads to her. Her character thirsted for words from literary works that she could not decrypt.
Not surprisingly, reading aloud to thirsting souls features prominently in our lives as monks. During meal times The Rule of St. Benedict exhorts us that “at the meals of the brethren there should not fail to be reading; nor should the reader be anyone who may chance to take up the book; but let there be a reader for the whole week who shall enter upon his office on Sunday.” The reading aloud of holy texts is spiritually edifying and builds up the body of Christ.
We are now Christ’s body and, individually, we comprise the parts that make the whole. The different parts have different roles and functions. There is not to be division between the parts, for we are one body. We are to appreciate the gifts of the different parts of the body, understanding where deficiency is matched with strength. We must be those people who can listen to the Lord Jesus with our ears and know that He is truly God and that all of prophecy is fulfilled in Him and His Church. We must recognize that together we form the body of Christ. We are the feet, hands and eyes of Christ present in our world today: bringing God to others because God has come into our lives.
Saint Luke recollects events so that they will not be lost and so that people can better understand Jesus. This account helps us understand how people in the time of Jesus, and shortly after the time of Jesus, understood Him. In our modern era, we do not underestimate a congregation’s appreciation of the lector who thoroughly and meticulously prepares his or her reading for Mass. Can you imagine Jesus reading aloud in the Synagogue from the Prophet Isaiah–and then telling the people that this Scripture passage is fulfilled in their hearing. Surely the people must have been dumbstruck by his delivery and his message!
We can see from these scriptural passages that readers and proclaimers of the word are integral to the Body of Christ’s Church. In whichever capacity we encounter the Word, as an ear, or a mouth, or hands, or feet, let the Word live in us and move us and others toward salvation.
Christ in the Desert Monastery, Abiquiu, New Mexico