Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
1) Neh 8:2-6, 8-10
Psalm 19:8-10, 15
2) 1 Cor 12:12-30 or 1 Cor 12:12-14, 27
Gospel: Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21
The power of words
From our waking moments to the end of the day, we are immersed in words, in written or spoken forms. We live in the so-called information age with almost instant access to news, opinions and facts about the world.
At the speed of a mouse click, the tap of a smartphone or a voice-controlled smart speaker, we hear or read the latest headline news, listen to favorite tunes, connect with family and friends, and organize the day’s tasks.
We receive news in real time as local, national or global events unfold before our eyes. Information technology unites people across vast distances in shared knowledge of what is happening in the world.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, St. Luke begins by offering his reason for writing his Gospel. Luke wishes to share the “good news” of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection so that many will come to faith. His words aim to open hearts and minds and to invite faith.
Luke goes on to describe one of many turning points in the ministry of Jesus. It is the moment when Jesus stood up in the synagogue on the Sabbath to read the words of the prophet Isaiah.
In that prophetic passage, Isaiah spoke of the one who is blessed with the Spirit of the Lord to bring good news to the poor, free captives, give sight to the blind, free the oppressed and proclaim a year of favor from the Lord. Jesus concludes the reading of this passage with words that must have astonished his listeners as he said, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus is the fulfillment of the law that Ezra the priest reads to the people of Israel in today’s first reading. In Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is the fullness of God’s promise to free the world and each of us from sin and darkness into the freedom and light of divine love and mercy. God’s word unites what is divided and heals what is broken and wounded.
The words that surround us in the news and social media can be sources of information or misinformation. They can enlighten and give peace or distort and disturb our view of persons and events. In the information age, words are weapons that either dignify and build up or hurt and bring down.
Today, we renew our trust in God’s word that always builds us up and strengthens us with truth and wisdom. Surrounded as we are by the incessant traffic of words in news, opinions and social media, we turn each day to the certainty of God’s word for wisdom and light.
By drawing close to God’s word, we fix our gaze on Jesus who alone fulfills the deepest desire of the human heart for union with God and love of neighbor. God’s word gives us the confidence to pray, “speak to me, Lord.”
Where is God’s word in my daily life?
Sullivan is secretary for Catholic education of the Archdiocese of Washington.