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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

3RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

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This Sunday we celebrate the 3rd Sunday of ordinary time which falls during the week in which we pray for the unity of Christians. The second reading from St. Paul tells us that though the Church has many parts we are one body, the body of Christ and this is true. As Christians there are different faiths and each of us has a different faith journey but the one thing that unites all of us as one body is Jesus Christ the son of God.

In the Gospel Reading for this Sunday Luke wants to make very clear to his readers what drives Jesus the Prophet from Galilee and what is the goal of his action. We as Christians need to know in what direction God’s Spirit pushes Jesus, since following him means that we are walking in the same direction as he did. The Spirit descended upon Jesus at his Baptism in the Jordan. With the Spirit poured upon him, Jesus would proclaim freedom for the trapped (captives), the diminished (blind), and those in need (oppressed). When Jesus proclaimed the Good News, he proclaimed the Spirit. Since Spirit meant breath, Jesus breathed God’s word in his words and deeds.  The power of his proclamation changed people, situations, and environments because he breathed out the power of God.

When Jesus spoke, hearts turned to God and health of mind body and spirit were restored. There is an immediate life-implication of today’s passage that is easy to overlook for us in our I want I get world. it is this: The Spirit of the Lord comes upon Jesus and comes upon the Church in order to bring good news. The presence of the Spirit means joy. In the 21st century we’re OK with entertainment and pleasure, but we are often suspicious of Spiritual joy because it might be a pie-in-the-sky illusion. How can we talk about or even allow ourselves to experience joy, when there is so much false hope, so much suffering, so much serious work to be done in the world around us? The paradox of Christian faith is the cross of Jesus. The cross symbolizes the pain and sorrow that Jesus and we know so well. At the same time, the cross of Jesus is the ultimate revelation of the love and mercy of God shown to us through his son. “For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12: 2). The joy that lay before him was not only that God would wipe away his every tear, but that through his self-giving love, his joy might be in us and our joy might be complete. We pray that as individual Christians and as Church, through the power of the Spirit, we will have the courage to bring Mercy to the poor, liberty to captives, sight to the blind, and freedom to the oppressed especially during the Year dedicated to  Mercy in all its forms.

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This weekend we also have the beginning of the week-long Eucharistic Congress in the Philippines. It seems like yesterday when we celebrated the 50th Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in 2012 and yet four years have passed and so many things have happened. We pray this weekend for a successful congress for all those who will be going there in the days  ahead.

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