Reflection for the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A 2023
At Christmas we celebrated the birth of Jesus as the entrance of our redeemer into our world. Jesu appeared as the light shining in our darkness. The readings of today’s liturgy talk about what this means. The Gospel reading recounts the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry where Jesus seems to have turned his attention to those overshadowed by death, to those whom he often referred to as the little ones or the poor. The term seems to include the blind, the lame, the lepers, the sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors. And the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
The Pharisees would have referred to these social outcasts as sinners. Because they knew nothing of the law, how could they keep it. In their eyes and in the eyes of their society, the situation of the poor was hopeless . They were taught that poverty, illness, and misfortune were punishment for evil. These people felt abandoned even by God. But we know that Jesus felt compassion for them. He told them not to be afraid because God had not abandoned them. God was their loving parent.
How do we react when we see Jesus associating with these social outcasts? Do we tend to judge our as better than they? When we judge another we are taking a superior position and putting the another person down. Jesus came to tell us that in God’s eyes we are all brothers and sisters.
Elsewhere in the Gospel, Jesus tells us not to judge and to avoid making comparisons. This is not easy to do especially since we have been raised in a very competitive culture. From our infancy we have been taught to compare ourselves with regard to talents and skills with IQ tests, class rankings, athletic contests, and numerous other competitions. If we have struggled with a judgmental attitude we are very aware of the difficulty.
Most of all, we need to know deep down that we are loved by God just as we are. What a great relief and freedom it would be if we could believe firmly and deeply that Jesus makes no comparisons but loves each of us as we are and wants the best for us. If we truly believed that and acted on it, we would accept all people as our sisters and brothers. There would be no prejudice. wars, violence, and exploitation would disappear.
As we continue to celebrate this Eucharist, the greatest sign of our unity with God and one another, let us pray that we may accept God’s love for us and for all people. Let us ask God to teach us how to include others in our midst. This is what it means to work to establish the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heave.
May God bless you all
Your brother in Christ