United as one

January 23, 2022

For fifty years the Jewish people had been exiled in Babylon. Most of the people gathered around Ezra that day had never worshiped in Jerusalem before, never worshiped in so large a gathering,   never worshiped in public. They are hearing God’s word proclaimed openly for the first time in their lives. Even the older folks  could barely recall what it was like before their exile. Many had certainly wondered if this day would ever come. We may   have felt the same way sometimes over the last two years. For weeks, or months, or over a year we did not join in communal worship. We rejoiced when we were able to return. Imagine the tears of joy shed by the faithful people of Judah when they were able to assemble freely for the first time in decades. In the longer form of the second reading, Saint Paul builds his analogy of the body, ending by pointing out that “if one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). We are all members of the body of Christ, of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.” If one of us suffers, the entire Church suffers. Many suffer from chronic illness, or poverty, or racism, or emotional trauma, or physical limitation. Many are not able to reach their full potential. In an even wider sense, since we are all children of God, the  human family is united as one as well. And so we are called to care for the least of our brothers and sisters, be they next door or at the other end of the world; we are one family. Along among the evangelist, Luke sets this account at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. He alone also reveals the scripture passage that Jesus reads in his hometown synagogue (Isaiah 61: 1-2), which sets the tone for his ministry. “A year acceptable to the Lord” (Luke 4:19) refers to a once-every-fifty-years event, during which debt were forgiven, slaves freed, and land reverted to it original owners or heirs. The transformative ministry of Jesus went on to fulfil this ultimate reversal of circumstances. Amen. (Casey, Most Reverend   Robert G. Pastoral Patterns. World   Library Publication, 2021).

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