Homily, Third Sunday in the Ordinary Time (Sunday of the Word of God), Year C

Nehemiah: 8:2-6,8-10
Psalm 19:8-10,15 (R. John 6:63)
1 Cor. 12:12-30
Luke 1:1-4,4:14-21

One could easily tag today’s homily as the Nature, and Mission of the Church in relation to the Word, and still be correct.

But, if it must be correct, one ought to understand that the Church is the community of the faithful in the name of Christ the Head and not a community of the faithful in the name of the preacher the head.

The first reading is a foreshadow of that Church which Christ the head instituted.

The Second reading is on the Nature of that Church.

The Gospel states the mission of that Church instituted by Christ, the head.

In the first reading, we see a replica of the Church in its hierarchy and members but all were subservient to the word. The word served as a source of enlightenment in order to correct the errors of the Israelites that resulted out of ignorance and not out of wickedness.

There is confusion, theivery, and violence; the shameful exploitation of the poor in Israel. So, the king of Persia sends Ezra to Jerusalem to fix things. Ezra is “a priest-scribe, the scribe of the text of the Lord’s commandments and statutes for Israel.” The Book of the Law was therefore used to fix this confusion.

In the second reading, Paul describes the nature of that Church which was foreshadowed in the first reading. Remember that the church is a community of the faithful.

So, that community is like the human body which is made up of many parts each with it’s proper function. Every part of the body is important and none can be substituted by another.

Paul goes revolutionary with his description of the Church; instead of using the comparism with the body to convince slaves to accept their position as in those days and serve their masters who may also be members of the Church, he uses it differently:

If anyone must be a difference, he says, let there be greater respect for the weakest, and more attention for the poorest (22-24).

Yes, Paul recognizes the heirachies and functions in the Church but these heirachies and functions are meaningful and important only in relation to the Word.

In the Gospel, Jesus states the mission of the Church that he was to institute: “…to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

This is the plan of Jesus for mankind, that was Jesus’ mission statement which should not be different from the mission of the Church, which continues the mission of Christ the head.

Child of God, whenever the Church is mentioned, many Christians remove themselves and look to her leaders without knowing that the Church is simply the assembly/community of the faithful and that they are part of the faithful. This confusion/ error similar to the confusion in Nehemiah is cured by the Word in the second reading: the community (the Church) is like the human body, which is made up of many parts, with its own function. Those parts are each of us, forming one body when put together. The word of God brings light; enlightenment.

There is the preminence of the Word in the Church because the service of the Word comes first since not only the faith but the life of the community (the Church) comes from, gears towards and is nourished by it(Rom: 10:17).

By implication, the nature of the Church is checked and nourished by the Word. And the mission of the Church is to preach the Word.

If nothing ever changes in our community, it is a sign that the proclamation of the word has been inadequate.

Yes, the sacraments are very important in the church but without the Word, there will be no Sacrament because it is by the Word that the sacraments are effected and are effective. Yet, the Word and the sacrament are inseperable.

It’s by this that those who are spiritually and physically blind can see. It’s by the word proclaimed that those held captives and oppressed in body and soul could be freed.

With the word, like Jesus, we must stand against all forms of oppression. We must all speak and hear the words of salvation and liberation.

It’s by the word that those held captive by sin are liberated. These are all miracles. And it is by the Word that they happen.

Jesus is the Word and our reason; our attention must be on Him alone, we(the Church) must look to no body else.

Without the Word, there’s no Church, no Pope, no Bishop, no priest, no deacon. Therefore, no apostle, no prophet, no teacher, etc. The Word gives all relevance, all serve the Word.

Do you speak the Word? Do you hear the Word? Do you listen to the Word?

It is when we hear and listen to the Word that we could say: “Your Words O Lord are Spirit and life.”

Child of God, Ignorance of the Scripture, is the ignorance of Christ.

©Fr. Henrycharles Umelechi

Truth series

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