Liturgy of the Sunday

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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Feast of the Word of God.
Prayer for the unity of Christians. Particular memory of the Christian communities in Africa.


First Reading

Nehemiah 8,2-4.5-6.8-10

Accordingly, on the first day of the seventh month, the priest Ezra brought the Law before the assembly, consisting of men, women and all those old enough to understand. In the square in front of the Water Gate, in the presence of the men and women, and of those old enough to understand, he read from the book from dawn till noon; all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. The scribe Ezra stood on a wooden dais erected for the purpose; beside him stood, on his right, Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; on his left, Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam. In full view of all the people -- since he stood higher than them all -- Ezra opened the book; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed Yahweh, the great God, and all the people raised their hands and answered, 'Amen! Amen!'; then they bowed down and, face to the ground, prostrated themselves before Yahweh. Ezra read from the book of the Law of God, translating and giving the sense; so the reading was understood. Then His Excellency Nehemiah and the priest-scribe Ezra and the Levites who were instructing the people said to all the people, 'Today is sacred to Yahweh your God. Do not be mournful, do not weep.' For the people were all in tears as they listened to the words of the Law. He then said, 'You may go; eat what is rich, drink what is sweet and send a helping to the man who has nothing prepared. For today is sacred to our Lord. Do not be sad: the joy of Yahweh is your stronghold.'

Psalmody

Psalm 18

Antiphon

The word of the Lord is pure and everlasting.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God
and the firmament shows forth the work of his hands.

Day unto day takes up the story
and night unto night makes known the message.

No speech, no word,
no voice is heard

yet their span extends through all the earth,
their words to the utmost bounds of the world.

There he has placed a tent for the sun;
it comes forth like a bridegroom coming from his tent,
rejoices like a champion to run its course.

At the end of the sky is the rising of the sun;
to the furthest end of the sky is its course.
There is nothing concealed from its burning heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
it revives the soul.

The rule of the Lord is to be trusted,
it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right,
they gladden the heart.

The command of the Lord is clear,
it gives light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is holy, abiding for ever.
The decrees of the Lord are truth and all of them just.

They are more to be desired than gold, than the purest of gold
and sweeter are they than honey, than honey from the comb.

So in them your servant finds instruction;
great reward is in their keeping.

But who can detect all his errors?
From hidden faults acquit me.

From presumption restrain your servant
and let it not rule me.

Then shall I be blameless,
clean from grave sin.

May the spoken words of my mouth,
the thoughts of my heart,

win favour in your sight, O Lord,
my rescuer, my rock!

Second Reading

1 Corinthians 12,12-31

For as with the human body which is a unity although it has many parts -- all the parts of the body, though many, still making up one single body -- so it is with Christ. We were baptised into one body in a single Spirit, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as free men, and we were all given the same Spirit to drink. And indeed the body consists not of one member but of many. If the foot were to say, 'I am not a hand and so I do not belong to the body,' it does not belong to the body any the less for that. Or if the ear were to say, 'I am not an eye, and so I do not belong to the body,' that would not stop its belonging to the body. If the whole body were just an eye, how would there be any hearing? If the whole body were hearing, how would there be any smelling? As it is, God has put all the separate parts into the body as he chose. If they were all the same part, how could it be a body? As it is, the parts are many but the body is one. The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' and nor can the head say to the feet, 'I have no need of you.' What is more, it is precisely the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest which are the indispensable ones. It is the parts of the body which we consider least dignified that we surround with the greatest dignity; and our less presentable parts are given greater presentability which our presentable parts do not need. God has composed the body so that greater dignity is given to the parts which were without it, and so that there may not be disagreements inside the body but each part may be equally concerned for all the others. If one part is hurt, all the parts share its pain. And if one part is honoured, all the parts share its joy. Now Christ's body is yourselves, each of you with a part to play in the whole. And those whom God has appointed in the Church are, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers; after them, miraculous powers, then gifts of healing, helpful acts, guidance, various kinds of tongues. Are all of them apostles? Or all prophets? Or all teachers? Or all miracle-workers? Do all have the gifts of healing? Do all of them speak in tongues and all interpret them? Set your mind on the higher gifts. And now I am going to put before you the best way of all.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 1,1-4; 4,14-21

Seeing that many others have undertaken to draw up accounts of the events that have reached their fulfilment among us, as these were handed down to us by those who from the outset were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, I in my turn, after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write an ordered account for you, Theophilus, so that your Excellency may learn how well founded the teaching is that you have received. Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone glorified him. He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written: The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord. He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, 'This text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening.'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Homily

By reporting the beginning of the Gospel of Luke, today's liturgy invites us to open again this small book. Taking the Gospel in our hands from the beginning may look like something little and not meaningful for a generation that easily consumes words and situations, possibly even emphasizing them while looking voraciously for something new and not willing to seek deeply in things. In truth, reading continuously and faithfully the Gospel is the discipline of the wise person who - like Jesus says - bring out of his treasure what is new and what is old. Sometimes it may look like we are hearing again and repeating what we already know. In fact, time and work of the heart on those pages make us discover the meaning of life and what the Lord asks us today. The evangelist Luke, whose Gospel will accompany us in this year's Sundays mentions Luke's commitment to "investigate everything carefully from the very first" of what Jesus said and did. This is an invitation to make his concern ours so that none of Jesus' words may be lost or ring in a vacuum. It is the Sabbath, and Jesus, "as was his custom," goes to the synagogue. He had attended it for thirty years. But this time Jesus himself comments on the passage from Isaiah that proclaims: "the year of the Lord's favour." And Jesus solemnly comments: "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Jesus does not comment on the passage, he fulfils it! It is the today of Nazareth and the today of every place where the Gospel is proclaimed. Every time the Gospel is preached, we should be able to say that its words become a saving realty for those who are listening. And it is precisely the poor, the weak, the afflicted, the captives, and the lame who need to hear, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled!" It is the Lord who says mostly to them, "Today" I am with you! Every Christian community should say this: "today" we want to be more generous, "today" we work so that wars and conflicts cease, "today" we work so that children will no longer be abandoned, "today" we work so that refugees will be welcomed, and the Gospel of mercy walk the streets of humanity and raise a new hope for peace.
The disciples must let their hearts be touched by this Gospel and not put the "today" of mercy off until "tomorrow," whether out of laziness or fear. It is a today that never ends, because every time the Gospel is proclaimed, God's "today" is fulfilled, the liberation of the oppressed, the consolation of the afflicted, and the year of favour for all.