YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE WORD OF GOD
BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
HOMILY: God manifests and gives Himself to us in different ways. One of the most sublime ways God gave and continues to give Himself to us is in His Word. The Word spoken by the Father, the Word that is the Eternal Logos and that became incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ and the Word that is always alive and active in our lives and midst by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Word of God is at the centre of our lives and of all we do as Christians. May the power in the Word of God continue to lead us to a deepened relationship with God and with those around us; Amen.
The readings of today present us with different liturgical settings both in the Old and New Testaments. The First Reading (Nehemiah 8:2-6, 8-10) recounts the priestly ministry of Ezra in the midst of God’s people gathered around His Altar as “all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law… and Ezra read from the Law of God, translating and giving the sense, so that the people understood what was read.” This scene of the Liturgical Assembly in the Old Testament underlines the centrality of the Word of God in the spiritual life of God’s people and in their official liturgical gatherings. This was the similar experience of Jesus as He went into the Synagogue in Galilee in the Gospel Reading (Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21) of today. After reading from the scriptures “all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, this text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.”
The centrality of the Word of God in our liturgical settings and in our spiritual life means certainly the centrality of God because the Word is God (Jn 1:2)! Making the Word of God central in the liturgy and in our spiritual life means bringing Christ to the very centre because the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst (Jn 1:14). This is one truth we must always take to heart; the centrality of the Word of God, the centrality of God and of course the centrality of Christ and invariably the centrality of the Holy Spirit who leads us to the fullness of the truth in the Word of God. In fact, “The word of God, constantly proclaimed in the liturgy, is always a living and effective word through the power of the Holy Spirit. It expresses the Father’s love that never fails in its effectiveness towards us” (cf. Verbum Domini, n. 52). This must never be bargained with anything whatsoever; be it neither the eloquence of the minister nor the gifts of God at work in the minister; be it neither the magnificence and beauty of structural edifices nor the ephemerality of bodily clothing and external aesthetics. It is only the centrality of the Word of God that gives true meaning and significance to all of these and they are necessary only to the measure in which they bring God to the centre.
The Word of God is to be read personally, in our families and in the ecclesia community. The Word of God is to be listened to with all attentiveness. The Word is to be meditated and reflected upon. The Word of God is to be prayed. The Word of God is to be celebrated. Through these means, the Holy Spirit leads us to the profundity of the Word and to discover the hidden secrets therein which transform us and lead us to become what we have read and listened to, what we have meditated and reflected upon, what we have prayed and celebrated; to become living and mobile letters of the Word of God. In the words of the Second Reading (1 Cor 12:12-30) the hidden power in the Word of God leads us to become one body in Christ and to use all of the gifts of God in us to build up this One Body of Christ for “just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.” The power in the Word of God conforms us to the likeness of Christ and makes clearer and brighter the image of God in us!
Lord God, may the power in the Word of God that we encounter every day be the foundation of our lives for “Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life”; Amen.
Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE