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Sunday Church at Home

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

23rd January, 2022

The lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

Leader:          In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All reply:        Amen

Leader:          Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

All reply:        Blessed be God for ever

Leader:          This Sunday has been designated by the Church as the Sunday of the Word of God. It is a day for us to experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of his word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches.


First Reading: Nehemiah 8:2-4a.5-6.8-10

Introduction to the reading: The book of Nehemiah recounts events which happened about 100 years after the Jewish people had returned from the Babylonian exile.  After their initial religious fervor, the people’s moral life and commitment to God’s law had lapsed.  So, Ezra the priest challenged the people to renew their commitment to the law, and conducted what would be called today a “religious revival”.

A reading from the Book of Nehemiah.

In those days:
Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly,
both men and women
and all who could hear with understanding,
on the first day of the seventh month.
And he read from it facing the square
before the Water Gate from early morning until midday,
in the presence of the men and the women
and those who could understand;
and the ears of all the people were attentive
to the book of the law.
And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden pulpit
which they had made for the purpose.  

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people,
for he was above all the people;
and when he opened it all the people stood.
And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God;
and all the people answered,
“Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands;
and they bowed their heads
and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

And Ezra and the Levites read from the book,
from the law of God, clearly;
and they gave the sense
so that the people understood the reading.

And Nehemiah, who was the governor,
and Ezra the priest and scribe,
and the Levites who taught the people
said to all the people,
“This day is holy to the Lord your God;
do not mourn or weep.”
For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law.
Then he said to them,
“Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine
and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared;
for this day is holy to our Lord,
and do not be grieved,
for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 19: (R. see John 6.63c)

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm:

R/. Your words, O Lord, are Spirit and life.

The law of the Lord is perfect;
it revives the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are steadfast;
they give wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right;
they gladden the heart.
The command of the Lord is clear;
it gives light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
abiding forever.
The judgments of the Lord are true;
they are, all of them, just.

May the spoken words of my mouth,
the thoughts of my heart,
win favour in your sight, O Lord,
my rock and my redeemer!

R/. Your words, O Lord, are Spirit and life.

Second reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-30

Introduction to the reading: Today we continue our reading from the first letter of Paul to the Christians in Corinth, an important seaport.  He was answering a letter they had written to him, containing questions about Christian life in their community.  Among the questions was how to deal with the diversity of gifts within the community, and the rivalries and jealousies that inevitably arise.  He responds by using an image that the Catholic Church has particularly emphasized.

A reading from the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians.

Brothers and sisters:

Just as the body is one and has many members,
and all the members of the body, though many, are one body,
so it is with Christ.
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—
Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—
and all were made to drink of one Spirit.For the body does not consist of one member but of many.
If the foot should say,
“Because I am not a hand,
I do not belong to the body,”
that would not make it any less a part of the body.
And if the ear should say,
“Because I am not an eye,
I do not belong to the body,”
that would not make it any less a part of the body.
If the whole body were an eye,
where would be the hearing?
If the whole body were an ear,
where would be the sense of smell?
But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body,
each one of them, as he chose.
If all were a single organ,
where would the body be?
As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand,
“I have no need of you,”
nor again the head to the feet,
“I have no need of you.”
On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker
are indispensable,
and those parts of the body which we think less honourable
we invest with the greater honour,
and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty,
which our more presentable parts do not require.
But God has so adjusted the body,
giving the greater honour to the inferior part,
that there may be no discord in the body,
but that the members may have the same care for one another.
If one member suffers, all suffer together;
if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.

Now you are the body of Christ
and individually members of it.
And God has appointed in the church
first apostles, second prophets,
third teachers, then workers of miracles,
then healers, helpers, administrators,
speakers in various kinds of tongues.
Are all apostles? Are all prophets?
Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?
Do all possess gifts of healing?
Do all speak with tongues?
Do all interpret?

The word of the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord has sent me to preach good news to the poor,
to proclaim release to the captives.

Gospel: Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21

The beginning of the Holy Gospel according to Luke.

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative
of the things which have been accomplished among us,just as they were delivered to us
by those who from the beginning
were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word,
it seemed good to me also,
having followed all things closely for some time past,
to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,that you may know the truth
concerning the things of which you have been informed.

At that time:
Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee,
and a report concerning him
went out through all the surrounding country.
And he taught in their synagogues,
being glorified by all.

And he came to Nazareth,
where he had been brought up;
and he went to the synagogue,
as was custom his, on the sabbath day.

And he stood up to read,
and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah.
He opened the book and found the place where it was written,“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

And he closed the book,
and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.
And he began to say to them,
“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

Two men unroll parchment scrolls and each reads it to the people. Their proclamations signal the beginning of a vast new era. One man is Ezra the scribe, and the other is Jesus of Nazareth. Four centuries separate their readings.

In the First Reading, the priest Ezra is dedicating the newly rebuilt Temple. He stood up on a high wooden platform built for the occasion so he could be heard and seen, and he “read plainly” from the scroll that held “the book of the law.” He started reading at daybreak and continued until midday!

He read from the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).The Israelites found their identity in the words of the Law, just as we find it in the Sacred Scripture today, especially in the Gospel.

In embracing the Gospel, we haven’t discarded the Old Testament: God’s Word endures throughout history to guide us and to shape our identity, then in the life of Israel, now in the life of the People of God. The Old Testament helps us to understand the New Testament more deeply. Just as in Ezra’s time, we don’t understand Sacred Scripture just as individuals. We gather to hear and be helped in understanding the Word of God when we come together for Mass.

In the Second Reading Paul uses the image of the Church as one great body composed of many members with different functions, strengths, and weaknesses. He notes that the Church has certain members of the body that help understand the Word of God. As the Church, we are one body in Christ: through Baptism, we become part of God’s community.

It was one Spirit that moved us to believe in Jesus and seek Baptism—the Holy Spirit—and that same Spirit sustains the unity of the Body of Christ. We deepen the connection among us when we hear the Word of God, and put our love, faith, and trust in the Word—Jesus.

Although we are one Body and have one Spirit in Christ, we don’t all have the same role within the Body, just as the head, the toe, the heart don’t have the same role in a human body. But we all strive to understand and live the Word of God in our everyday experience.

Luke starts his Gospel by explaining that he tried to check and compile everything concerning Jesus that had been written or handed down by other “ministers of the word.” Then we hear about Jesus giving a public reading of Sacred Scripture which challenges his listeners to make a “fresh beginning” with a new outlook. Like Ezra, he takes up a scroll, this one containing the book of the prophet Isaiah. He reads the passage, which says that the Spirit of the Lord has sent him to “bring good news to the poor, … to let the oppressed go free,” to proclaim a time of favour from the Lord (Is 61:1-2).

This is what Ezra had done in the First Reading, but Jesus’ mission is much, much more. Jesus has come to fulfil everything promised through the prophets, and to give meaning to the history of salvation lived until that moment.

What we call the Bible today is a collection of religious traditions that are revered as sacred because they are inspired by God. It was only by the 4th century  that the Church, aided by the Holy Spirit, established the list of those books which are part of Sacred Scripture. 

Without God’s Word, we’d soon lose our identity and our way in a world plagued by ignorance, confusion, and sin. Sacred Scripture continues to ensure that we have access to the Word of God, spoken through all of salvation history, and remain united in the Word of God, Jesus Christ. Just like Ezra, Paul, and Jesus himself, the Lord blesses us with people who conserve and interpret what God has said to us throughout salvation history.

The Church has long believed that there are multiple senses (meanings) in Sacred Scripture, senses that are not incompatible but, rather, “concordant,” as the Catechism of the Catholic Church describes it. Concordant means they are in harmony, just as chords are meant to harmonize with each other.

The literal sense is the meaning of the Scripture being considered: what does it literally mean? The literal sense is only the starting point to working towards a deeper understanding.

The spiritual sense of the Word of God acknowledges that the realities and events narrated in Sacred Scripture can be signs that go beyond their literal meaning. It’s not just what Scripture says; it’s also what Scripture signifies.

The allegorical sense of Scripture helps to understand the significance of certain events in Christ. For example, the crossing of the Red Sea, which occurred well before Our Lord’s birth, is a sign or type of Baptism (passing through the waters to be saved) and also Christ’s victory over sin (the defeat of Pharaoh’s armies through the waters).

The moral sense of Scripture helps us understand how we should live more justly.

The eschatological sense of Scripture shows the meaning of events and realities as they relate to the future kingdom of heaven. For example, the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem as described by John in the Book of Revelation and should lead us to it.

These senses of Scripture are important because they influence the way many people understand the Bible.

As Christians, we are part of the story of salvation, plugged into three thousand years of sacred history. And that means that each of us is also meant to do something, to contribute to the story. Our vocation, our work, the use we make of the talents we have received from God – this is how we can make our contribution. But the quality of that contribution depends on how deeply we are imbued with God’s grace. The more God’s grace saturates our minds and hearts, the more we will overflow with his blessings, becoming active, courageous  in building a better world.

The Word of God today reminds us of one extremely effective way to pour God’s grace into our hearts: daily Bible study. I say – ‘daily Bible study’ and not ‘daily bible reading’ because it takes effort and study to come to a holy and grace-filled understanding of Scripture.

Ezra reads from the scroll  that held “the book of the law”  at the gathering in Jerusalem in today’s First Reading. Jesus himself reads from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue as he announces the nature of his vocation and mission. The Bible is a unique collection of sacred writings. If we take time to read, study, and reflect on it each day, our souls will be filled with “Spirit and life,” as today’s Psalm reminds us.

And in the digital age there is no excuse not to do this. It is so easy to get a hold of a Bible, and it is so easy to find study guides and other resources that can help us understand its message.

  • I like the ‘African Bible’ which we have in our repository. It contains the excellent New American Bible translation, with full footnotes, cross references and a brief commentary on the side of the page.
  • In February, our online Bible Study will resume.
  • Our Connect groups are also an excellent way to reflect on Scripture.

The Bible is God’s love letter to each and every one of us. Sadly, there are some people who misinterpret the Bible and use some verses out of context to justify their prejudices and hatred of people who are different to them. Never, ever, let that happen to us.

The more we authentically study Scripture, the more we will find it a flowing fountain of wisdom, comfort, guidance, and strength.

From today’s Gospel reading:

Jesus unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me….
God has sent me to proclaim….
a year acceptable to the Lord.


Jesus tells his hearers, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke is reminding us we don’t have to wait for some future time and place for God to come to set us free, it is happening “Today.” The One anointed with the Spirit enables us now to be in right relationship with God and one another.

So, we ask ourselves:

  • What can I do to deepen my understanding of Scripture?
  • In faith, can I embrace the truth of Christ’s words for me today: he has come to proclaim liberty?

Prayer of the Faithful


My brothers and sisters, having listened anew to God’s word in the scriptures, let us bring our prayers to God our Father, through Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.


We pray for the Pope, bishops, priests, deacons, lectors, cantors and catechists:

that through their proclamation and living out of God’s word, they may lead us into a renewed  understanding of its riches.


We pray for our parish: May each of us open our hearts to the divine presence that enlightens us through his Word and guides us to the springs of eternal life.


We pray for all who steward earth’s resources: that we may recognize all of creation as God’s gift to us and grow in awareness of our responsibility to care for the earth


We pray for all who struggle with emotional and mental illness: that they may come to know a time of God’s favor and receive peace and relief from their struggles.


We pray for all who are ill: that the healing mission of Jesus will continue through our care for the sick.


We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time.


We pray for Pierre Kedzierski, Patricia Bortolan, Maureen O’Brien and Florence Rakharebe who died this week.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.

And let perpetual light shine upon them. 
May they rest in peace. Amen.

Leader:                      PRAYER FOR SUNDAY OF THE WORD OF GOD

Pilgrim God,
you walk alongside us

and speak to us throughout the Scriptures:
in the message of the prophets,

the songs of David

and the vision of Paul.

Your Son, Jesus Christ,

listens to our hopes and fears

and shows us how to live:

in our love of neighbour

our desire for justice,

and in our dying and rising each day.

Send us the Holy Spirit

to open our hearts and minds

so that we may be your witnesses

throughout the world:

in our protection of the vulnerable,

our words and actions

and in our communion with the earth.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us.

My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul at least spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I actually receive you. Amen.


Leader:          Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

All say:          Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.


Lord God,

whose compassion embraces all peoples,

whose law is wisdom, freedom, and joy for the poor,

fulfil in our midst your promise of favour,

that we may receive the gospel of salvation with faith

and, anointed by the Spirit, freely proclaim it.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God for ever and ever.



The leader says:

May God bless us with every heavenly blessing,

and make us always holy and pure in his sight.


May God pour out in abundance upon us the riches of his glory,

and teach us with the words of truth.


May God instruct us in the Gospel of salvation,

and ever endow us with fraternal charity.


May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

All:                  Amen.

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