Vol: 46, No.12 3RD SUNDAY OF THE YEAR ( C) January 27 2019  
The events described in the first reading take place five centuries before the coming of Christ. Book of Nehemiah forms part of the historical books of the Old Testament and today’s reading gives a glimpse of the historical situation of the time. Ezra and Nehemiah are reformers of the Israelite society after the exile. Though they come to Jerusalem at different times and on different missions, for a time they are together when they carry out the reforms. Nehemiah was a man of ability, courage, and action. Arriving in Jerusalem, he first privately surveys the scene of destruction to the city and its surrounding walls. Then he organizes the community to carry out the effort of rebuilding the broken-down city wall. Courageously and squarely he meets the opposition from the leading men of Jerusalem who exercise control over the city. Nehemiah cooperates with Ezra in numerous reforms and especially in the public reading of the law (First Reading). However, he leaves for Persia, probably on official business, in 431 B.C. Later he returns to Jerusalem, but we do not know for how long.
In 458 B.C. Ezra receives permission from the king of Persia to return to Jerusalem to carry out a religious reform. The temple is rebuilt in 516, in spite of powerful opposition from the Samaritans; but after a brief period of religious zeal, the nation drifts into apostasy once more. Many of the Jews intermarry with their heathen neighbours; the temple services and sacrifices are neglected, and oppression and immorality are prevalent.
As for the public reading of the law, it is done in such a manner that everyone can hear and understand. On account of the reading of the law the people weep. But they are comforted by Ezra and Nehemiah who have said, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn and weep.” Then they send the people to their homes.
2ND Reading:
Now that the Christian community has
come into existence, Paul says that building up of the community needs concerted effort from every member. He compares the community with the human body that has many parts which must work in unison. Christ is the unifying factor and head of the body. Paul says, “You are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” Obviously all members cannot be apostles, or prophets or teachers and healers. But each has received the gift which should be put into common use so that all members can live and flourish which is ultimately God’s purpose.

The mission that Jesus is going to undertake is spelled out in the synagogue of Nazareth. In the synagogue Jesus reads a passage from the Book of Isaiah wherein the prophet speaks about the anointed of the Lord who will bring about the liberation of the oppressed class of people. By quoting Isaiah, Jesus makes it clear that what Isaiah announced to the people of his day is now being announced to the poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the downtrodden of Jesus’ day. What was announced in a prophetic way to the exiles returning to Jerusalem by the prophet of old has now been turned by Jesus into a prediction, the fulfilment of which is found in his words and deeds. But his own people fail to realize it and reject him. That this Good News is especially for the poor is characteristically Lucan. In Luke the “poor” means first of all those at the bottom of the economic scale, who may lack even the basics for survival. The “captives” may be people with physical ailments that are regarded as the result of Satan’s bondage or the devil’s oppression. “Recovery of sight to the blind” can refer to Jesus’ healing ministry. Jesus has been sent “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18; Luke 1:78-79).

– AK
January 2019 / February 2019 (3rd Week in O.T., Year I) Psalter Week 3
28 Mon (W) St Thomas Aquinas, Heb 9:15, 24-28/ Ps 98:1-6/ Mk 3:22-30
29 Tue (G) Heb 10:1-10/ Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 10, 11/ Mk 3:31-35
30 Wed (G) Heb 10:11-18/ Ps 110:1-4/ Mk 4:1-20
31 Thu (W) St John Bosco, Heb 10:19-25/ Ps 24:1-6/ Mk 4:21-25
01 Fri (G) Heb 10:32-39/ Ps 37:3-6, 23-24, 39-40/ Mk 4:26-34
Mal 3:1-4/ Ps 24:7-10/ Heb 2:14-18/ Lk 2:22-40
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