Saturday, January 26, 2013

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

            Two thoughts came to me when I thought about how the Israelites in the first reading listened to Ezra read from the Law from sun up until noon.  First, I decided to go with the longer version of the 2nd reading for Mass.  If the Israelites could listen for five or six hours, we can listen to a minute or two more.  Second, I wondered what it would be like to listen to Fr. Rich preach for five hours.  Though it seems like that long every time he takes the pulpit!
            One of my favorite hobbies is reading.  I love to read, and not only religious or spiritual books.  I have laughed with Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.  I have been angry at Smeagol and “his precious”.  I cried when Dumbledore fell off the castle—well, not really.  I even tried to learn the ways of women through Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice—and am more confused than ever.  Even secular literature can capture the joys and sadness of the human experience.
            Yet my favorite book by far—and there is no close second—is the greatest book ever written.  It has the greatest author: God.  It has the greatest heroes, villains, plots, poems and even romances.  It is the best-selling book of all time—the Bible.  I have experienced in my own life the fact that “Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life,” and I pray you may do the same.
            The Liturgy of the Word today is all about the Word.  Again, Ezra read from the Scriptures for five or six hours.  And this event is very significant—he didn’t just do this on a whim.  This context of this report places the Jews having come home to Jerusalem.  Only a few decades earlier their capitol city, center of worship and nation were decimated by the Babylonians and carried into exile.  We check in with the Israelites as they rediscover the Scriptures which had largely been lost.
            This is an inspiration for us.  Are the Scriptures being used in your life?  If not, it is time to pull out the greatest book ever from the shelf and rediscover what God has in store for you through His Bible.
            Jesus is brilliant with the Scriptures.  After sitting in the synagogue, Jesus rises and is handed a scroll.  This seems ordinary enough, but consider the fact that Jesus probably did not know which book of the Bible He would be handed.  Plus, the scroll He is given had no paragraphs, punctuation, spaces between letters or even lower case letters.  Yet Jesus quickly finds the passage He is looking for and reads: “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.  Imagine the crowd as they hang on every word Jesus reads.  Imagine as they recognize this is a prophecy foretelling the coming of the Messiah.  And then Jesus states,Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.
            One of the greatest scripture scholars ever, St. Jerome, once said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”  How well do you really know Jesus?  And not the Jesus that society portrays—someone who leaves controversially topics alone, ignores sin promotes love without justice and doesn’t really care if we choose Him or not.  Learn about who Jesus Christ truly is.
            Pick up that Bible and read it daily.  You will never regret it.

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