3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A – Homily

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Isaiah 8:23-9:3
Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14 (1a)
1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
January 22, 2023

Each Sunday we gather to celebrate Mass.  We begin with the procession followed by the Sign of the Cross, a greeting, Penitential Rite, Gloria, and a prayer.  We end with a blessing before we recess out.   

In between there are two main parts to the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  We are in the midst of a three year Eucharistic revival so we have been talking more about the Eucharist.  Some of you have attended my series of presentations on the Eucharist (www.renewaloffaith.org/greatestgift). 

Today I would like to focus on the readings we hear in the Liturgy of the Word.  Of course, the readings we hear at Mass come from the Bible.  The Bible offers us God’s Word.  At the center of the Word are the Gospels as they are Jesus’ own words.  Recognizing the primacy of the gospels, the Book of the Gospels is carried in during the opening procession.

While the gospels containing Jesus’ words and actions have primacy, the Old Testament is not eliminated.  In fact, gospel passages like today’s point us to passages in the Old Testament. Today we hear that Jesus’ move to Capernaum fulfills “what had been said through Isaiah the prophet.”  We hear that passage in our first reading.

The New Testament fulfills the Old and the Old Testament prefigures the New.  To fully understand one, we need the other.  It is all part of God’s Word.  Jesus comes not to abolish the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).  Jesus’ teaching helps us understand what God had taught from the beginning.

John the Baptist fulfills what was said of one who would prepare the way of the Lord in his call to repentance.  Jesus picks up where John the Baptist left off, continuing the call to repent.

Psalm 27 says, “I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living.

In this world, we can see God in the things He has created.  Think of a time you have seen the beauty of God in nature.

Perhaps there are moments in your life that you saw God in the way things turned out in a difficult situation.

Of course, we see Jesus in the Eucharist.

God reveals his presence in his Word.  In Isaiah we read, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”  God brought light to the Israelites in slavery in Egypt.  God brought light to the Israelites in exile in Babylon.  There are numerous stories of God rescuing his people in the Bible. 

Isaiah tells us that God smashed “the yoke that burdened them.”  They were burdened by their sins because of which they were defeated by their enemies but God would set them free.  God sets us free from our sins by the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. 

We must never forget what God has done for us. 

Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow him and they all did immediately.  Hearing of the great things God has done for his people in the Bible, we too answer his call to be his disciples.

A few years ago, Pope Francis declared that this Third Sunday of Ordinary Time always be celebrated as the Sunday of the Word of God to remind us of the importance of God’s Word.

It is a living word.  There are some people who think the Bible is outdated.  I don’t know why they think that.  It is not outdated.  The world is different but God’s Word is a living word.  It is still relevant today.

For instance, there is much division in the world today.  In our second reading today, Paul tells us that God intends for there to be no divisions among us, that we “be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.”  It is God’s Will we should be united it.  God does not intend divisions within Christianity but that is what we see.  We must remember that we “belong to Christ.”  It is his will we seek.

We need to see things as God sees them (1 Samuel 16:7).  For instance, some people think a Ouija board is just fun and games.  Some people will visit fortune tellers.  Some people will seek channeling of spirits or to control a “universal life energy” in things like Reiki.  God has something to say about such things.  Where do we find it?  In the Bible of cross! 

In this case, we find it in Deuteronomy 18:10-12a, “Let there not be found among you anyone who causes their son or daughter to pass through the fire or practices divination, or is a soothsayer, augur, or sorcerer, or who casts spells, consults ghosts and spirits, or seeks oracles from the dead.  Anyone who does such things is an abomination to the Lord.”

The Bible is God’s Word.  We need to read it with the guidance of our Church and the Holy Spirit. 

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