Nehemiah 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10
Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, which consisted of men, women, and those children old enough to understand. Standing at one end of the open place that was before the Water Gate, he read out of the book from daybreak till midday, in the presence of the men, the women, and those children old enough to understand; and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law. Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that had been made for the occasion. He opened the scroll so that all the people might see it—for he was standing higher up than any of the people—and, as he opened it, all the people rose. Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people, their hands raised high, answered, “Amen, amen!” Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the Lord, their faces to the ground. Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God, interpreting it so that all could understand what was read. Then Nehemiah, that is, His Excellency, and Ezra the priest-scribe and the Levites who were instructing the people said to all the people: “Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep”—for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law. He said further: “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our Lord. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!”
1 Corinthians 12:12-30
Brothers and sisters: As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For 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. Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body, ” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.” Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it. Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?
Gospel Cycle Cycle C
Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21
Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received. Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Today shows a new beginning for God’s people in the Jewish Scriptures. Ezra and Nehemiah have found the Scriptures, the Law, and are reading them to the people. The people are eager to receive them and realize how far they have gone away from their Covenant with God. The people want to return to the full observance of what God has asked of them.
If we were to think of something similar today, it would be like reading The Catechism of the Catholic Church in public and everyone weeping because people can see how far we are away from the teachings of our faith. The deepest response would have to be the same as these chosen people of own: God has called us and we want to do only His will. That will was shown to the Chosen People in the Law given to Moses. It is shown to us today in the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Today, far too often, we find ourselves seeking only what we want to be true or what we find convenient for us to be true. Following Jesus Christ in His Church is a demanding exercise and demands our whole life. Together you and I form the Church, but never by ourselves and never without the authority established by Christ to guide and direct His Church. The First Letter to the Corinthians includes the description that we have today of how we are all one and how we are called to work together for the glory of God.
When we separate ourselves from the Church, we separate ourselves from Christ. Today many Christians no longer believe in the Church. They profess faith in Christ but do not see the importance of belonging to the Church. This is part of the struggle with individualism in our own time: we want to believe but we want to believe only our own version of faith. We do not want to be given the teaching of the Church if we disagree with it. We end up following, not Christ, but only ourselves.
The Gospel of Luke today is at the beginning of the public ministry of Christ. He reads the Prophet Isaiah to his fellow townspeople and then tells the that the Scripture is fulfilled their, in their midst. We know that through the ministry of Jesus lots of people followed Him. We also know that lots of people did not follow Him because they did not want to accept His complete teachings.
This is the same today. The challenge of this Sunday is this: will we follow Christ in His Church or will we go our own way? We cannot claim to be following Christ if we do not accept what He teaches. Jesus tells us: come, follow me. Let us walk with Him and in Him find our peace.