A reading from the Book of Nehemiah
(Chapter 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10)
The events in this book took place in the fifth century before the birth of Jesus, when the Jewish people had been freed from exile in Babylon. People are returning to their own land, rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem, and learning anew the law that God handed down through Moses. They weep as Nehemiah reads it to them, not out of sadness but in joy, that this essential part of their faith has been restored to them. But Nehemiah tells them, “Go, and eat rich food and sweet drink…. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength.”
If the Israelites were told to rejoice in a law that took half a day to read, how much more should we rejoice in the law of Jesus which is a law of Love not of fear?
“Your words, Lord, are spirit and life.” We Christians should say ,“Your Word, O Lord, is Jesus who gave his life to save us, and your Spirit is the Holy Spirit who lives within us.”
A reading from St. Paul's first Letter to the Corinthians
Paul is writing to a community of new Christians in Corinth. There were apparently arguments within the community about which gifts were the most valued. Paul uses the analogy of the body to make his point. All parts of the body are important. Likewise, all of the gifts in the community, whether in ancient Corinth or in today’s communities, are equally valued, whatever they are. If you have not joined in a ministry, check out the list of ministries available in your parish and join one you choose to serve. Each is important to our community.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke
Did you ever wonder why there are four accepted Gospels in the New Testament? Each of the Gospels was written at a different time by different people and for different reasons. Luke wrote primarily for Gentiles, and he wanted to convince them that Jesus came for them as well as for the Jews. However, right at the beginning of his Gospel, Luke he wants also to assure his readers, whatever their nationalities or religions, that Jesus is the real Messiah. So, he tells of Jesus going to the synagogue in Nazareth where he grew up and reading the beautiful prophecy from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.”
Luke wants all his readers to know that this Messiah came for all, especially the poor who were often neglected and cast aside by the powerful. The Church and its clergy are often criticized for their real or imagined wealth. However, in our own time the Church has more often stood with the poorest of the poor. The example of Pope Francis to live modestly and spend time with poor people is a sign to the rest of us of how we should live our lives and carry out our ministries. How has the example and the message of Pope Francis about solidarity with the poor touched your life? How can you respond to his call?
Photograph by Ashwin Vaswani on Unsplash
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayers was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. Bill was a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.