The Power of the People

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10; 1 Cor 12: 12-30; Luke 1: 1-4, 4:14-21
Deacon Larry Brockman

It is much the same today, isn’t it.  We roll open a scroll of sorts, our Bibles or the Lectionary, and the word of the Lord is proclaimed to us, just as I have done here.  And then someone explains its meaning to the crowd- as I am trying to do right now with you.  And as a result, the people of God are energized, and rejoice.   

In Ezra’s day, the Israeli’s had gone through much.  They had been exiled from Judah and Jerusalem to Babylon; their temple had been ravaged and destroyed; and they had been taken into slavery.    

But now, decades later, they had returned to Jerusalem and were free.  Their leaders were determined to restore the temple and their Religious practice by building a new temple in Jerusalem.  And as a beginning, Ezra proclaims and explains the Word as in days of old from a makeshift platform.  The People weep- tears of happiness.  The whole scene calls for a celebration, and that is what we read.   

Notice that these people responded best to the call of the Lord when they were in adversity.  Imagine, if you will, what it took in the ancient world to return from exile, build a new temple, and restore Jewish practice.  It had to be a very hard road to hoe.  They were penniless; they were relatively few on numbers; and they had very little assets.  But they had faith and they had resolve.  They were determined.  And that is the story of the people of God throughout its history.   

Fast forward 500 years to Jesus’ time.  Jesus does the same- He enters the temple opens the scroll and reads from the prophet Isaiah.  The times were bad for Jesus’ people.  They were captive to the Romans.  But Jesus explains the meaning of Isaiah’s word of God in absolutely revolutionary terms.  It was like nothing heard before or after.  Jesus claims that he is personally fulfilling the age-old prophecy of Isaiah in their presence.  Jesus is saying that he is the fulfilment of the prophecy to proclaim good tidings to the poor, liberty to the captives and cure the lame.  Jesus is claiming to be the Messiah who will save Israel, and indeed the World.   

And indeed, that is precisely what he did.  Jesus cured the lame; and set those free who thought the only life was life in this world either in captivity or poverty.   Jesus message opened up life in the Kingdom of God for all who believed.  He blazed through the Holy Land on a three-year mission, and made the ultimate sacrifice, his own life on the cross, but was risen from the dead and seen by many.  He promised believers everlasting life like his own.   

And finally, let us fast forward to today.  We too, have heard the word proclaimed.  We have heard that Jesus is the fulfilment of the prophecy.  We are challenged with keeping firm in our faith through much adversity.  There are many who attack our faith and ridicule us.  Our secular world seems to be winning the battle.  But it is in such adversity that we can rise to the occasion and renew the world.   

You see, we have also heard about the mystical body of Christ.  Yes, all of us are part of that mystical body of Christ.  All of us in some way contribute.  We are the arms, legs, hands, feet, eyes, ears, and all the other parts of the mystical body of Christ.  Even the less honorable parts of that mystical body in man’s eyes are honorable and contribute.  That includes those who are disenfranchised, lame, and infirm.   

Because all of us are made in the mage and likeness of God, God’s mystical body can radiate his love, the love of God.  When we project the love of God, then we conquer all obstacles as did the people of Ezra’s time.   

Yes, it is much the same today as it was in Ezra’s time.  It is time for us to weep tears of joy over the restoration of the promise.  For we are the people of God who do his will and have the capacity to bring all people to the one and only God of Love.

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