Jan 23, 2022
First Reading (Nehemiah 8:2 – 4a, 5 – 6, 8-10)
Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 19)
Second Reading (1 Corinthians 12: 12 – 30)
‘Teach me your ways, O Lord. Your ways, make known to me; teach me your paths, Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour’ (Psalm 25: 4 – 5). We, as true disciples of Jesus know well enough that to achieve those incredible blessings we must possess very strong faith in God and His Kingdom. Faith is the greatest and the only source through which we can realize all that we long for. Today’s readings instruct us, regarding how to make our faith grow well and make it fruitful as we want.
Our faith-growth is like that of our gardening. Let us take an example our garden around our house or in a farm. What do we do first and foremost in making a garden? Before we sow the seeds or plant seedlings we till and cultivate the ground. We remove very carefully all the weeds and tares and other unwanted elements from the land. This work also continues throughout the year, to make our plants grow and bear wonderful fruits or beautiful flowers. The same is true with growing our faith. We have to prepare our hearts and minds and preserve them, as worthy ground where our faith can grow.
We are led to rejoice and be glad today because we firmly believe we are possessed by the Spirit of God. We, through our Baptism and other sacraments are moved by the Spirit. We are not alone. We are united with other human beings by the Spirit, as the members of one body. Paul writes to the Corinthians about this wonderful fact of faith: ‘In one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.’ And therefore when an individual suffers, the others stand there to support us. Though we are different from each other and possess different kinds of attitudes, aptitudes, talents, qualifications, IQ, opportunities, lucks, and backgrounds we are still one because, of the Holy Spirit that is keeping us united.
And then what makes us rejoice this day especially, and in a unique way is Jesus Christ. In the Gospel as he declares in the synagogue we have in our midst the Son of God, who is the fulfillment of all the promises of God and the summit of His marvelous deeds and the summing up of His laws. Jesus said to those who were listening from the Scriptures, the promising words of God, about sending a Redeemer to us. “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” In Jesus we know and believe, so much has been accomplished for our sake: all the promises of God are fulfilled through Jesus’ life and death and resurrection; all our expectations and dreams are being realized by His perpetual presence in our midst; and all God’s laws are being summed up in His love command.
It is human nature as to take it for granted anything that is invisible, immaterial and spiritual. We are also indifferent to Jesus’ call of repentance and we try to procrastinate responding to it. That is why in his primary message Jesus starts with the wonderful announcement of the importance of our life today. Time is running out. That sounds like Jesus is urging us to repent, and leave everything and follow him as quickly as possible.
Sooner the better. The same message of urgency is echoed by Paul today, in the second reading. ‘I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out.’ And he goes on enumerating, how it is urgent and what is number one priority and what is very secondary. Then he adds, ‘for the world in its present form, is passing away.’ When we hear Saint Paul’s words here about the body of Christ, we often think of the Church as a whole. We think of a beautiful, complex ensemble made of many different parts.
At the same time, though, you might feel that you’re an insignificant part – a foot rather than a hand, as St. Paul would say (1 Corinthians 12:15). So many people seem to be more vital to the functioning of the body of Christ than yourself. There’s the mom of six kids, on the parish council, who has a son in seminary. Or the successful businessman who generously gave thousands of dollars to fix the church’s bell tower. Or the widow who leads a Bible study and never misses daily Mass. Or the popular preacher who has a million followers on YouTube. Are you really as important as these members?
Absolutely yes! Remember, “God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended”(1 Cor 12:18). Each member is essential to the proper functioning of the whole body. That includes you. He intended you to be an important part of his body.
How can you be sure? Jesus called you and made you part of His body through Baptism. He knows why he called you and it’s not so that you would be exactly like someone else. He loves you in a way that he loves no one else. That means you are just as dear to his heart as the people who might look like superstars to you.
So try today seeing the body of Christ and yourself the way God looks at you. Each person has a role to play, and if everyone were the same the Church wouldn’t be all that God wants it to be. God made you exactly as you are to help make his body, the Church, whole.
We have to act exactly as those Nineveh people did, as soon as God spoke to them through the prophet Jonas. Look at him. He is our great example, in not obeying God’s call for repentance. Though he was a member of the elite group of Israel, God’s chosen people, and added to it, he was a chosen prophet. Yet he did not obey God when he was asked to go to Nineveh, to preach God’s message. He had various reasons to excuse. But as God loves us very much, he loved Jonas too. He made him a wounded healer or repented preacher, by a miraculous event which happened in Jonas’ life. God loves each and every one of us present here, as he loved Jonas. In order to make us into his prophets and his messengers of his repentance, to the world around us, he first wants us to be converted completely and totally reap from his redemption. Let us then become wounded healers.
Jesus brings every day and at every time when we listen to Him and receive Him in the Eucharist, the glad tidings, strength and vigor, revival an renewal, wisdom and health, prosperity and power and glory. Many get all these, despite the fact they appear outside: poor, simple, and ordinary. Let us be smart enough to gain the momentum of this day of joy and gladness in Jesus. Being glad this way we can, as Jesus accomplished, make others happy an rejoice even though they are imprisoned, afflicted, impoverished and blinded.