The Good News Liberates Us
Rdgs: 1st: Neh 8:2-6.8-10; Ps: 18; 2nd: I Cor 12:12-14.27; Gos: Lk 1:1-4.4:14-21
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
On this third Sunday of ordinary time, we rejoice in the Good News of Salvation. This good news binds us together as the people of God and enables us to work for the kingdom of God. Christ himself is this Good News that brings us salvation. So, the church invites us to listen to the Good News and meditate on it in our hearts.
In our first reading, after the people had worked together to achieve their goal and freedom, Nehemiah gathered them and read the good news to them. After listening and meditating on the word of God, the people echoed, “Amen!” In our second reading today, through his letter to the Corinthians, Paul encourages us to remain united and work together as one body of Christ. To achieve this, everyone must be considered important. There must be reconciliation, understanding, truthfulness, and respect for one another.
In today’s gospel, Luke narrates his own “solid and ordered account” of the events about Christ. His audience is “Theophilus.” This Greek name simply means “lover or seeker of God.” Historically speaking, there was no known figure named Theophilus at the time when Luke wrote his account. So, it is believed that Theophilus simply refers to all who love or seek God. Therefore, this good news is for all of us and our salvation.
Today, Jesus presents to us his program of evangelization. His program is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favor.” This prophecy was made eight centuries before the birth of Christ. This was when the Israelites lived in slavery and misery in exile.
Hence, Isaiah’s prophecy was a call to liberation. So, by using these same words as the basis of his ministry and mission, Christ announces His reign of peace, justice, freedom, and love to all those suffering from all kinds of oppression and injustice.
Like Nehemiah in our first reading, today, Christ proclaims the good news of the new era to all of us. It is important to note that this good news is not directed only to the materially poor, but to all who are poor in spirit as Christ taught us in His beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God” (Mt 5, 3).
In order words, the kingdom that Christ has come to establish is open to all who will humbly receive him. All those who have the necessary disposition to receive the good news are poor in spirit. These necessary dispositions include charity and generosity, which manifests in service towards all.
The good news liberates us from two types of slavery. The first is personally imposed slavery, which results from our personal sins and mistakes in life. This slavery makes us spiritually exiled, blind, and deaf. It cripples our spiritual life and hardens our hearts against God and all that is good.
The other type of slavery is that which is imposed on us by society. These include structural, economic, and physical injustices that do not allow us to live a fulfilled life in this world. Both of these are excellent sources of pain and burden to us. Our liberation from the first slavery gives us the strength to combat the second. This is because Christ strengthens us to endure and overcome all.
Peace be with you!