20. Jan, 2019

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

You’d know what a trilogy is. Star Wars, the Lord of the Rings, the Godfather. Today’s Gospel isn’t one. Rather it’s a Two-Part Saga! The second epic part of this story comes next Sunday and there’s no spoilers! Here we go, part one . . .

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news”

Today’s Gospel reading begins with Luke’s famous account of the care with which he has researched the traditions of the first Christian communities. It then omits Christ’s infancy, his baptism by John, and his forty days in the wilderness – to continue with a text describing the beginnings of Jesus’ ministry where the Lord preaches in his home-town.

The context to what Jesus is about to do is found in Nehemiah. Back then Gods’ people had been humbled and sent into exile. However, having been allowed to return to their homeland in Jerusalem they were also allowed to rebuild their Temple. This set the stage for them as one people to renew ‘the covenant’ and re-establish the law of Moses as their rule of life.

Israel rededicating itself to God and his Law sets the stage for Jesus. In this scene Jesus the high priest – instead of Ezra the high priest –  reads from the prophets. It is Isaiah. In that particular prophesy of chapter 61 the glad tidings include the liberation of prisoners, the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the restoration of Israel as a kingdom of priests, and the forging of an everlasting covenant or pact with God.

Listening to the Word of God today we are like any other Israelite assembling to hear about Gods saving work and finding the motivation to rededicate ourselves to God’s service. But something more is happening. Jesus has actually changed the way we dedicate ourselves to God.

As Jesus read from the scroll Israel witnessed the proclamation of the new people of God under Jesus, not Moses. In Jesus the old is superseded. In Jesus we celebrate a new sabbath – the Eucharist, in Jesus we have won God’s favour and we have been delivered from slavery to sin. The new people of God under Jesus are ruled not by the law, but by the Spirit. And in the Spirit we are made one body with/in Christ.

Today, having listened to God’s Word, we continue to celebrate Eucharist with joy. Sunday is a day of joy and freedom and should be set-aside for the Lord. As Christ’s Body and as a priestly people, we (not Ezra, not Jesus) are called to rededicate ourselves to God in, with, and through Christ in whom we have found favour from God. In thanksgiving let us stand to profess our faith in our God who has remembered His promises to us.