The response in today’s psalm is “Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life,” it is taken from John’s Gospel (Jn 6:63) and it expresses the message of today’s Gospel reading taken from the beginning of Luke’s Gospel. In fact all of today’s readings are a public proclamation of the Scriptures. What are the Scriptures? They are the Word of God. Pope Francis in an Apostolic Letter in 2019 declared the third Sunday of the year (today) as the Sunday of the Word of God. It is important for us as Christians to be familiar with God’s Word so that we can pass it on to others.
Ezra the priest had an important role in the restoration of Jerusalem when the people returned from exile in Babylon. The prophet Nehemiah describes how the Scriptures are read by Ezra to the people, who are open to listening to them being proclaimed and their hearts burned and they wept on hearing the Words. They are profoundly touched by the Word of God, which are totally compelling.
Luke narrates Jesus’ return to Nazareth and the beginning of his ministry where he goes into the synagogue on the Sabbath. He stands up to read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and his words are totally compelling for the audience. They are the people of his home town and they listen as Jesus announces that he himself is the fulfilment of the prophet Isaiah who prophesized that God would one day send someone to free the people from oppression. This announcement points to the focus of Jesus’ good news and his mission to help the marginalized members of society. It’s no surprise that “all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him” especially as he said “this text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.”
We can ask ourselves, how does our own response to the Word of God compare to those who listened to both Ezra and Jesus? Does the Word of God ‘burn’ in my heart? Does it move me to tears? It’s a good idea when reading the Bible to read a passage slowly and reflect and pray on the words, what are they saying to me? Lectio Divina is a good way of becoming familiar with God’s Word. So is attending adult catechism formation meetings.