3rd Sunday Year C - Homily 6


Homily 6 - 2022

Early in the week when I took a preliminary look at the readings for this weekend, my heart dropped. What might the First Reading, for example, have to say to us? It seemed so irrelevant. It dealt with the period after a small number of former Jewish exiles had returned to Palestine from two or three generations of captivity in Babylon. The great majority by far of exiles had chosen to remain in Babylon. The returning Jews had little idea what to expect. They had no king, no land of their own, no temple — just hopes.

Perhaps they thought a little like some of us might be thinking right now. The question in the minds of many of us at the moment is, “What will the Church be like after Covid?” Our other two readings today help us to address the question, if not to answer it.

Today’s Gospel showed Jesus in Nazareth, launching his public life and his message. He called for genuine change, as had numerous prophets before him, and he quoted a text that Isaiah had addressed precisely to those same exiles who had returned from Babylon and were re-settling in their former homeland:

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives
and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

At the end of his life, Jesus commissioned the apostles to spread his message to all the nations. He sent them to change the ways people relate to each other, the ways that societies operate.

To bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, to give new sight to the blind, to set the downtrodden free — in our modern world, that should also be the field of politics, of political action, but of enlightened political action.

How we welcome refugees often fleeing for their lives, how we take care of the sick, how we share our nation’s wealth equitably, how we take care of our environment, how we ensure that every family can afford its own home — these are all practical faith issues, how we love our neighbour, even our enemy, in practice. They are also political issues, and far too important to leave simply to political parties and their policies.

I am inclined to think that, for many people, it is politics that over-rides faith responses, rather than faith determining our politics.

If we are to put into practice what Jesus commissioned us to do, we need to get to know Jesus well; like him we need to experience the spirit that anointed him and to appreciate ever more deeply the values on which his teachings rested.

It is the role of the Church as structure to form us for such responsibilities, to support us in our Christian lives, and to keep them anchored in the Gospel.

As St Paul insisted in today’s Second Reading, together we are Christ’s body; individually, each of us is a different part of it. We need each other; but each of us remains unique and individually gifted.