The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

27 January 2019 at St. Peter & St. William Churches in Naples, Fl

Nehemiah 8, 2-10 + Psalm 19 + 1 Corinthians 12, 12-30 + Luke, 1, 1-4; 4, 14-21

I just love the dramatic way the church stops this reading right here. Next week we pick up with the following verse, and we know what happens when the people start grumbling about what he says, and Luke will tell us that they are “filled with fury”, but we don’t go there yet lest we shift our focus onto them, onto someone else. We must take just these verses and deeply and personally wonder what God is saying to us, because these verses are aimed straight at us, the church, and these words are not proclaimed as comfort from the past, but as a program for today.

The scriptures are fulfilled in us. We are the body of Christ, and we cannot either proclaim or listen to this Word of God without be shaken into action. The plan and program for the life of Jesus Christ is the plan and program for anyone who dares to call themselves by his name as Christian and presumes to consume his Body and Blood. These are not options. What he proclaims as the program of his life and for our lives, if we choose to be his disciples, is specific and measurable. If the poor see us coming, it must be good news for them, not fear that we might take more from them or drive them away. If the poor see us coming, they should have hope because when they see Christ or Christians, they know that help is on the way. What are the oppressed to expect when they see us coming? Will it simply be polite indifference that suggests they should get lost? Luke leaves us to wonder just what is acceptable to the Lord by these words of Jesus, and by that wondering we might evaluate our values and our behavior because all that is left now is you and me. We are all the poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed have left to hope for.

It seems to me that there are five kinds of Christians after all this time. There are some who are Christian in name only. They pay no attention to the customs and beliefs of Christianity. There is no commitment. The second group are Christian by habit only. They are committed to the outward observances, but it has no affect upon their way of life. The third are clearly devoted to their faith and are engaged in good works, but they are without any of the qualities of mercy and kindness that made their Master so appealing. A fourth group are practical Christians. They have grasped the heart of mission of Jesus Christ, concerned about others and are never ashamed to be seen as Christians. The fifth group however are spiritual people. In meeting them, it is always as though we have met Christ himself not just someone doing good works because it makes them feel or look good.

By wondering what is acceptable to the Lord we shall be led into this fifth group. By our faith and the power Jesus Christ in our lives, we have a daunting task and a great privilege. The only way many people are ever going to come to know Jesus Christ is from our lives not from a Bible Study or some program in self-help. As Luke begins his Gospel with this story, he is revealing who Jesus Christ is. What our proclamation of this Gospel also reveals is just who we are and why.

Father Tom Boyer