Browsing Reflections

Fr. Jo's Reflection for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Yr C, January 23, 2022

In our past two meetings of the Wednesday Faith Enrichment, I’ve focused on the reasoning behind the three year cycle of the Church’s Liturgical Year. The idea is not at all hard to grasp. The arrangement of the Liturgical Year draws from the synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke. The Years are distinguished using the letters, ABC. In Liturgical Year A, we read the Gospel of Matthew; in Year B, the Gospel of Mark; and in Year C, the Evangelist Luke becomes our teacher. How I learned it in my family catechism class was: “A is for Matthew, B is for Mark, C is for Luke” and I never forgot it. It’ll be proper to ask: “Where does the Gospel of John come in? Is John left  out?” John did not write a synopsis, that is, a summary or general survey of the life of Jesus, as the other Evangelists did. His was rather a theologically rich and a spiritually deep Gospel, the purpose of which was to invite the listener to “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:3).  Hence, the Gospel of John is mostly read during the special seasons and feasts of the Church, and, sometimes, too, interwoven during the year for the purpose of elucidating a particular mystery of faith. For example, during the last Year B, the “Bread of Life Discourse” from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John came at the middle (17th Sunday of Year B through the 21st Sunday) to shed more light on an idea introduced by Mark on the 16th Sunday about feeding the hungry crowd.

I chose to give this summary of the Liturgical Year and its connection with the Gospels because today we heard the prologue to the Gospel of Luke, which is the Gospel for Liturgical Year C. The Gospel was clearly addressed to a Greek (might be Roman) convert to the faith, by name Theophilus. Luke calls his Gospel an accurate account of facts that have been properly investigated to which he presents in an orderly sequence. The prologue to the Acts of the Apostles, too, shows that Luke wrote twice to this convert. This can be compared to Fr. Jo writing two lengthy letters to one of our RCIA candidates, detailing all I know about Jesus, in order to elicit faith in the seeker. But Luke could have also meant the letter for anyone who wishes to take the compliment of being, in Greek, a “theo-philos,” meaning, friend of God. Friendship with God opens one’s ears to hear the Word of Life. Using that introduction, Luke started his narrative of the events we have been celebrating for the past seven weeks; events culminating in the birth and infancy of Jesus. With Christmas over, today, we are introduced to Jesus’ public ministry. Luke says: “Here is your new Rabbi.”

Welcome to the Synagogue Nazareth! Jesus was handed a scroll and from the prophecy of Isaiah he found His purpose statement. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord” (Lk 4:18). He announces that this scripture passage is today fulfilled in our hearing. What a news! Who are the beneficiaries of the good news? The poor, the prisoners, the blind, the oppressed, all who seek God’s mercy and favor. Can you find yourself in this group? Are you a member of this club?

Significantly, Jesus did not promise to make the poor wealthy in this world. Sorry to the prosperity preachers, who promise people that God will make them materially rich – Jesus doesn’t agree with you! His glad tidings to the poor is that they have a special place in God’s heart. God is the wealth of the poor; in God, captivity becomes captive; blindness turns to a dark night of the senses where one sees God and oneself clearly through shutting the eye of the senses; freedom is derived by being fettered by Christ; and there is mercy and jubilation for them who have seen the dungeon in which sin has thrown them. The Lord who is kind and merciful comes to liberate us from our sinful self!

Fr. Chukwudi Jo Okonkwo


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