First Reading: Nehemiah 8:2-6, 8-10; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-30; Gospel: Luke 1: 1-4, 4:14-21.
THEME: THE POWER OF GOD HAS SET YOU FREE!
Words are the most effective weapon of a human person, and the most influential tools in communication. Both written and spoken words are very efficacious. Whatever we write or say has the ability to influence people to a greater extent, either positively or negatively. We can use words to heal, comfort, inspire or build others; on the contrary, we can also use it to instigate fear or hatred; to destroy or tear people down. So, if the words of human beings are very effective like this, how much more the Words spoken by the God Almighty?
In the First reading, Ezra, the priest of God, played a major role in the restoration of the people of Judah who had come back from exile. He assembled all of them, and thus proclaimed the Word of God to them. They listened to the Word of God from early morning till midday with maximum attention and reverence, and thus were deeply touched, enlightened, empowered, and filled with great joy. They felt the Power of the Word of God, and some of them wept profusely immediately they heard about the tremendous works God had done for them in the past out of love, although their ancestors later disobeyed His commands. But Ezra encouraged them to rejoice and not mourn, for joy of the Lord is their strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
In the Gospel reading, Jesus Christ, filled with the Power of the Holy Spirit, proclaimed the Word of God with authority to a great assembly, which was written about Him by prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…” As people listened with maximum attention, He declared to them: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing“ (Luke 4:18-19). He proved that He is the Word made flesh by demonstrating clearly and practically that everything written is being fulfilled.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God (Revelation 19:13), He is the Power of God which created the whole universe, and brought everything into existence (John 1:1-3). According to Him, “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). And as the psalmist says, “He sent out His word and healed them, and delivered them from destruction” (Psalm 107:20).
This implies that, whenever the Word of God is being proclaimed, the Power of the Holy Spirit takes absolute preeminence. This is also evident when St. Peter preached the Word of God to the congregation, and as they were listening, immediately, the Holy Spirit fell on them (Acts 10:44). Hence, the Word of God is the most powerful weapon that has the ability to liberate, heal, transform, create, and restore any bad situation in the universe; human words are limited.
Undoubtedly, whenever we listen to the Word of God with faith and maximum concentration, we always gain spiritual nourishment, as well as transformation, liberation and healing taking place inside us. Thus, we receive spiritual gifts or talents which will enable us to continue spreading the gospel of Christ anywhere we find ourselves (Matthew 28:19-20). If we allow the Word of God which is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16) to take root in us, then we would begin to understand that all of us Christians, irrespective of our individual gifts or calling, tribe or race, are one body and one Spirit, and are called for the same purpose, just as St. Paul enunciated in the Second reading.
Therefore, when we abide in the LORD and allow His Words to dwell in us, then we can ask anything we want from God and He will definitely grant it to us (John 15:7). That is when we truly become God’s instrument of peace, love, justice, equity and fairness in our society. We begin to liberate people who are oppressed, bring enlightenment to people by freeing them from enslavement and ignorance with the truth of the gospel, and also heal them from every form of psychological, emotional and spiritual maladies. For when they know the truth, they shall be set free (John 8:32).
Finally, in as much as our human words are very effective in human or societal development, though they are limited, but God’s Words are more powerful, because they are eternal. When our words agree with God’s word, there would be divine restoration, healing, breakthrough, love, peace, etc. in our lives. So, as Christians, we are called to always listen to the Word of God with maximum attention and reverence. Also, to use the Word of God, through our words, to bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor… to build and not destroy, to heal and not to inflict pains.
Therefore, I pray that the Almighty God, through the Power of the Holy Spirit, may help you and your entire family to always be attentive to His Words, set you free from any difficult situation in your life, fortify you by the Power of His Words so as to become His instrument of liberation and transformation in the world; through Jesus Christ, Amen!!!
Peace of Christ be with you…
Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.