Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

Readings: Neh 8:2-6,10; Ps 19:8-10,15; 1 Cor 12:12-30; Lk 1:1-4, 4:14-21

THE GOOD NEWS

We spend much time listening to people talking to us. But do we believe what they say? We like to match what people say with their actions, and how they live their lives. While we use words to communicate our ideas, thoughts and feelings, our words are reinforced or diluted by our actions. God’s Word is always efficacious and affirmed by his actions! What about our own words? Can we be people of the Word, believing in the Word, and transformed by the Word?

We may not all be created equal in every attribute but we all have several things in common.

So, what are these things?

Of course, Our Time! All of us have the same amount of seconds, minutes and hours in a day to do with as we desire.

And there is, Individual Power! We also have individual power although some may think not because they live in countries where they are ruled by a strict dictator or military government. But, even these people have power.

Combine Time and Power in Your Words? The time you take and the power of your words – how you say them, what words you choose to use, and when to speak these words. These words can be ones that ridicule, make fun of, chastise, or ones that encourage, praise or demonstrate kindness.

A Story Of Time and the Power of Words

I remember a story told to me by a good friend of mine who used to commute to work daily on a train. On disembarking, he always walked he short distance to his office building along with all the other throngs of people hurrying on their way to their work.

Each morning, he passed an older man who was always at the same spot with cup in hand hoping to get a bit of change by those who passed by. For most people, this person was someone to be ignored as if he didn’t exist, a person who they didn’t want to be bothered with. Invariably, though, my friend would always say good morning to him and bid him to have a good day. The stranger would smile back, say good morning and remain on the station until all the commuters had gone on their way.

Occasionally, my friend would drop a dollar or two in his cup on his way by as he said hello. This behaviour went on for several years until one day . . . . his last day on the job before retirement, my friend stopped for a few moments to speak with this man.

He told the man that he would no longer be passing by because this was his last day on the job. The man took his hand and shook it warmly saying that he had always looked forward to seeing my friend pass his way and not because he dropped a few dollars in his cup.

He said he would miss my friend because he was one of the few people out of thousands who passed him daily who ever said hello, and was the only one who ever bid him to have a good day.

The man also said that his warm words always brightened his day and helped him to continue on despite being ignored by thousands of others who saw him daily.

The message Is clear. We all have power in words and it doesn’t mean, at all, that the most basic of greetings and recognition have no impact. In fact, all our words have impact and so often we do not recognize that some can be devastating to another, others can cause others to give up, or others can help encourage. Remember your power when you speak, for you have more influence than you think. Your words may be the encouragement that someone desperately needs. Take the time, sometimes it is only a matter of seconds! You may be surprised the difference you will make in someone’s life.

This is an inspirational story about the power of words. Words which we say to someone can impact the other person positively or negatively.

A group of frogs were travelling through the woods. Suddenly two frogs were fell into a deep pit. All other frogs gathered around the pit. They analysed it and concluded that it is too deep to come out. It is almost impossible that they can come out. They told the two frogs that since the pit was too deep, they were as good as dead. The two frogs just ignored the comments and jumped hard to come out of pit. But their efforts were in vein. They tried 2-3 more times with all their might. Finally one frog got demotivated by listening to the other frogs’ comments and gave up. He fell down and died. The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. On the other side the crowd of frogs kept telling him to stop since there was no chance to come out for him and he would die as the other frog. The frog tried even harder and finally came out. The crowd of frogs were amazed at his efforts. They asked him why he did not listen to them, but he explained to them that he could not hear as he was deaf and he thought that the other frogs were encouraging him. So that is the power of words. We surely would have watched many movies where the hero does the impossible after being motivated. When we get motivated, we do the things which seems otherwise impossible. The opposite is also true. I have seen many people who demotivate others. This is the power of words. So always motivate your kids. Never demotivate them by saying … oh you cannot do that. You don’t have the talent. Always motivate them. Tell them they have the power. They can do any thing! Have you ever met such people who always motivate and help others to achieve their goals?

Today’s First Reading presents an interesting picture of the priest Ezra standing above the people to deliver his interpretation of the law of God. His reading goes on for hours and saddens the people as they consider how much they need to reform their lives. Perhaps their weeping finally convinces Ezra to “take it easy on them.” He and Nehemiah, the governor of Judah, then encourage the people to celebrate their observance of the law. The people, they say, should have a great feast because “rejoicing in the Lord” will be their source of strength.

Second Reading: Human beings have a desire to belong — to another person, to a community, or to God. We can imagine how the Christians at Corinth welcomed Paul’s letter assuring them that they were all “one body.” They were not to create divisions among themselves by identifying themselves as Jews or Greeks, slaves or free people, women or men. Because they had all been anointed by the Holy Spirit, they had become together the one body of Christ. Each was a member; no one was left out.

In today’s Gospel of St. Luke, you will find reason to be grateful to him. He went to a lot of trouble in order to put in a permanent form, in a written record, the essential facts concerning Christ, his words and his works, so that we “would understand (like Theophilus) the certainty of the faith in which we have been instructed.”

But while we must be grateful to St. Luke, we owe a bigger debt of gratitude still to the all-good, all-wise God who moved Luke and the other Evangelists to preserve for us in writing the essential truths of the Christian faith that has been handed down to us. The Apostles were companions of Christ. They witnessed his works and his words; they remembered most of his doings and his sayings, and what they might have forgotten the Holy Spirit recalled to their memory on that first Pentecost day in Jerusalem. The first two generations of Christians received the facts of the faith from these eye-witnesses and the miracles so frequent in the infant Church were confirmation of the truth of their teaching.

But God in his wisdom provided for the many generations to come who would not have this evident confirmation of their faith. He established a teaching body in his Church which would safeguard the purity of the Christian truths, for “he himself would be with it all days,” and he gave us a written record of the facts of the faith in the Gospels and the ether writings of the New Testament.

How can we ever thank God sufficiently for his thoughtfulness in our regard? We Christians of today can be as certain, as assured, of the truth of the faith that we are trying to practice as was St. Luke who was converted by St. Paul. We have a living, teaching Magisterium in the Church, which authentically preserves and interprets for us the true facts of Christ’s teaching and works as written down for us by a first-generation Christian under the impulse and guidance of God’s Holy Spirit. If we needed further proof of the priceless value of our New Testament Books, the virulent attacks on their authenticity, on their objectivity, and on their veracity, by enemies of the faith down to and including our own day, should be sufficient.

But they have stood the test of time and the onslaughts of biased, prejudiced criticism, for they are the word of truth, which is eternal, and comes from God.

We have a priceless gift of God in the inspired Books of the Bible. Let us show true appreciation for that gift by using it to build up a better knowledge of the Christian faith which it teaches us. There should be a Bible, or at least the New Testament, in every Christian home. It should not be an ornament on a shelf, but a fountain and source from which we can draw strength and refreshment in the daily practice of our Christian faith. Almost two thousand years ago, God’s infinite goodness provided this source of strength, the “fountain of living water,” for us Christians of this century. Are we grateful for his thoughtfulness? Are we nourishing our faith at this blessed fountain of his infinite wisdom and love?

“Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (v. 21). Jesus’ preaching begins with the word “Today.”

• Today the Spirit of the Lord is upon me.
• Today I bring good news to the poor.
• Today I proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind.
• Today I let the oppressed go free to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

This is one of the world’s shortest sermons, but it packs a lot of punch. The people of Israel have waited for centuries for the fulfillment of promises that God made throughout their history, beginning with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). Now Jesus declares that the wait is over––that the day has come––that the promises are fulfilled––that salvation is nigh! This is indeed good news.

The fulfillment of this scripture began with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus but continues in the life of the church today. All over the world, the church is bringing good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives, helping the blind to recover their sight, helping to free the oppressed, and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor. Whether championing human rights or providing relief funds for hurricane victims or drilling a well for the people of a primitive village or training indigenous people for ministry, the church is helping Jesus to fulfill what he identified in these verses as a core part of his mission.

All of us are Anointed blessed and delivered. Are we active or dormant? Are we postive or negative? Are we pro catholic or anti? Do we love our Catholic faith or not?

How to Spread the Word of God

So, you’ve committed your life to the Lord God in Heaven. Now you should obey him and spread his word to as many as you can! However, if you feel like many Christians, spreading Christ’s word is a difficult task. Here are some tips.

1 Pray for courage. One of the hardest things about spreading God’s good news is gathering the courage to do it. However, if you pray then it only requires you to truly want courage to receive it. If you pray with one or more other Christians, the mission will be even easier.

2 Be Bold. Don’t think ‘I will be persecuted.’ or ‘They’ll think I’m weird’, etc or you’ll never get anywhere! Even if people strongly believe another religion, try to tell them of the word of God and Jesus.

3 Be Persistent! No matter how hard it is to make them believe in Jesus, if you try hard enough and pray hard enough, it will be done.

4 Spread the Word. Don’t tell just a few people of the good news, tell everyone you meet.

5 Read the Bible and obey God. How can you persuade others if you are not armed with righteousness and the sword of the spirit (The Holy Bible)?

6 Search for Ways to Spread the Word. You can use emails, letters, social network, organize parties and tell the guests, at work/school, sleepovers, online gaming chat rooms, websites or anything else you can think of.

7 Make Your Life a Living Example. If you raise funds for a charity, give money to children, pick up litter etc, then people will know that you are a good person and you can tell them that you are representing God. If you really devote yourself 24/7 to the Lord, you show people how much you believe.

“A man’s true wealth is the good he does to the world”
“When a poor man stands at your door remember God stands besides him”.

Fr. Gaspar Fernandes, OFM Cap.

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