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Bulletin: January 23, 2022

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Community is important. Community is essential. Community is crucial. This message is the foundation of today's readings from Nehemiah, Corinthians, and Luke. Ezra's reading of the scroll is done in front of the community, including--a radical act at the time--women, and children old enough to understand, groups usually not counted among those hearing God's promise proclaimed. Community is important. The mystical Body of Christ, like the human body, functions best and most fully when all members are playing the role for which they were meant. Community is essential. God's word is fulfilled when the community has heard it, and witnessed it. In Luke, the baptism and desert trials of Jesus lead to the synagogue scene, which will then lead Jesus to his public ministry of proclaiming the reign of God. He eventually will journey to Jerusalem and his crucifixion. Community is crucial.


Our liturgical calendar separates different Gospel scenes, which can sometimes do them a bit of a disservice. The liturgical year, of course, has its own rhythm and purpose, into which the stories of the life of Jesus are placed. However, when Luke was organizing his Gospel (for "Theophilus" the lover of God whom we encounter in today's Gospel introduction), today's scene was part of a three-fold structure: the baptism of Jesus; the temptation in the desert; the announcement of the public mission in the synagogue at Nazareth. Linking these is the Holy Spirit, who descended on the body of Jesus at his baptism, who filled his body as he endured his forty-day trial, and who is upon his body to announce and to bring about God's reign, a mission he fulfills with his body on the cross. The incarnation (the "in-flesh-ing") of Jesus, which we think of in connection with his birth, remains central to his story.


Last week's reading from Corinthians concerned the one Spirit who gives many gifts, yet is the source of our unity. Paul continues this theme today using the image of the body, whose different members each have an important and distinct role to play. The Spirit of baptism forms that one mystical Body of Christ. The Spirit of baptism fills the many members, but unites them always as one. The Spirit of baptism is on each member, as it was for Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth. That Spirit of our baptism anoints each of us as a member of Christ's Body to be glad tidings, proclaim liberty, bring clearer vision, lift the oppressed, to announce God's reign to all. As different members of Christ's Body, we are each called upon to do this in our own way. We may face opposition or rejection, as Jesus did, but we can always turn again in faith to the Spirit of our baptism who is still with us.

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