Friday, January 22, 2010

This text is being fulfilled today ...

Third Ordinary Sunday Year C

What does the Bible mean to you? Whenever you hear the readings during the Liturgy of the Word, what are your feelings? Do you feel encouraged by these readings or challenged by them? Do you really pay attention to the readings or are you just waiting to receive holy communion? If we have never really paid attention to the readings read during the Liturgy of the Word or taken the trouble to read and study the bible, we may, perhaps, have left out one of the most important aspects of the Mass – the Liturgy of the Word. The liturgy of the Word is no less important than the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Both are equally important. Jesus who is truly present in the blessed sacrament is also present in the word proclaimed during the first half of the mass.

In the Gospel, Jesus reads from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He attributes what he has read to himself. He is the Word of God. He is the Word made flesh. He is the Word of life. This is the purpose of the Word of God: “to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.” If we have not really been paying attention to the readings every Sunday, we may perhaps have lost out on these promises. If we turn our ears away from hearing God’s word, we will only hear ‘bad news’ – the bad news which society and our experiences feed us with everyday of our lives. The good news of the Bible is this – that in spite of all the evil that we see, hear and experience in this world of ours, God’s salvation is far greater. The good news is that Jesus, the Word of God, has conquered evil and death. Yes, we continue to experience many problems and difficulties, but we believe that God has already won the victory through Jesus Christ. This is our good news. We are no longer poor because Jesus has promised us the treasures of heaven, treasures that will not eaten by moth or turn to dust – everlasting life.

Those who fail to listen to God’s word continue to be trapped and imprisoned by their fears and addictions. Jesus promised us that he has come to proclaim liberty to the captives. If we listen to him, we too can experience this liberation. The most important freedom is internal freedom – it is only eternal freedom that can promise lasting joy. Those of us who fail to listen to God’s word will continue to be blind. We will continue to be blind to our own mistakes and our sinfulness. We will continue doing things as if everything was alright. A blind man is in a worst position when he doesn’t realize that he is blind. If you feel that everything is going wrong in your life, if you feel that the burden of tragedies and problems after problems, Jesus has come to set you free. Jesus has come to set the downtrodden free and to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

In Asian society, the teacher has a place of high standing in society. We are to treat our teachers with reverence as how we treat our parents. Likewise, within the Church, those members who have been given the position of teaching and instructing and of spreading God’s word are given the first place. This does not mean that they are to be treated as better than others in the community. The reason for giving them the first place is because of the Word of God which has been entrusted to them. The Word of God must have a central and prominent place within the community. Likewise, the Word of God must also be the basis of each of our lives. It is not enough to recite prayers and attend mass. These are good. But what is far better, is the need to study and read the Bible so that the Word of God can become our daily guide. When we constantly read the bible and listen attentively to the readings at every Mass, the Word of God will find fulfillment in our lives. Then, we can echo the words of Jesus as he says: “This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.”

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