Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
January 23, 2022
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.








Almighty ever-living God,
direct our actions according to your good pleasure,
that in the name of your beloved Son
we may abound in good works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading Neh 8:2-4a,5-6,8-10

Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly,
which consisted of men, women,
and those children old enough to understand.
Standing at one end of the open place that was before the Water Gate,
he read out of the book from daybreak till midday,
in the presence of the men, the women,
and those children old enough to understand;
and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law.
Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform
that had been made for the occasion.
He opened the scroll
so that all the people might see it
— for he was standing higher up than any of the people —;
and, as he opened it, all the people rose.
Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God,
and all the people, their hands raised high, answered,
“Amen, amen!”
Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the LORD,
their faces to the ground.
Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God,
interpreting it so that all could understand what was read.
Then Nehemiah, that is, His Excellency, and Ezra the priest-scribe
and the Levites who were instructing the people
said to all the people:
“Today is holy to the LORD your God.
Do not be sad, and do not weep”—
for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.
He said further: “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks,
and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared;
for today is holy to our LORD.
Do not be saddened this day,
for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 19:8,9,10,15

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

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.

The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.

Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
find favor before you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Second Reading 1 Cor 12:12-14,27

Brothers and sisters:
As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
Now the body is not a single part, but many.
You are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.

Alleluia cf. Lk. 4:18

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

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events
that have been fulfilled among us,
just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning
and ministers of the word have handed them down to us,
I too have decided,
after investigating everything accurately anew,
to write it down in an orderly sequence for you,
most excellent Theophilus,
so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings
you have received.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news of him spread throughout the whole region.
He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Reflection Questions

  1. How do you find strength by rejoicing in the Lord?
  2. How have you been given to drink of the one Spirit?
  3. How do you experience Scripture being fulfilled in your hearing?

Catena Nova

If scripture is true, it was not only to the Jewish congregations of his own generation that our Lord spoke. He still speaks to us assembled here today—and not only to us, but to other congregations also.... Here too in this synagogue, that is, in this present assembly, you can at this very moment fix your eyes upon your Savior if you wish. Whenever you direct your inward gaze toward wisdom and truth and the contemplation of God’s only Son, then your eyes are fixed upon Jesus. Blessed was that congregation of which the Gospel says, “All eyes in the synagogue were fixed upon him!” How I long for our own assembly to deserve the same testimony; for all of you, catechumens as well as the faithful, women, men, and children, to have your eyes, not those of the body but of the soul, turned toward Jesus! When you look at Jesus your own faces will become radiant with his reflected glory, and you will be able to say: “The light of your face has shed its brightness upon us, O Lord!” To you be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. (Origen of Alexandria)

The scope of our art [preaching] is to provide the soul with wings, to rescue it from the world and give it to God, and to watch over that which is in his image—if it abides, to take it by the hand; if it is in danger, to restore it; if it is ruined, to make Christ dwell in the heart by the Spirit; and in a word, to deify and bestow heavenly bliss upon one who belongs to the heavenly host. (St. Gregory Nazianzen)

It must be pointed out to the preacher, if he is to cause his people profit and not to embarrass himself with vain joy and presumption, that preaching is a spiritual exercise rather than a vocal one. For, although it is practiced by means of outward words, its power and efficacy reside not in these but in the inward spirit. Wherefore, however lofty be the doctrine that is preached, and however choice the rhetoric and sublime the style wherein it is clothed, it brings as a rule no more benefit than is present in the spirit of the preacher. (St. John of the Cross)

People have an idea that the preacher is an actor on a stage and they are the critics, blaming or praising him. What they don’t know is that they are the actors on the stage; he (the preacher) is merely the prompter standing in the wings, reminding them of their lost lines. (Søren Kierkegaard)

A church that doesn’t provoke any crisis, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed — what gospel is that? Very nice, pious considerations that don’t bother anyone, that’s the way many would like preaching to be. Those preachers who avoid every thorny matter so as not to be harassed, so as not to have conflicts and difficulties, do not light up the world they live in. (St. Oscar Romero)

Show me the suffering of the most miserable;
so I will know my people’s plight.
Free me to pray with others;
for you are present in every person.
Help me to take responsibility for my own life;
so that I can be free at last.
Grant me the courage to struggle for justice;
for in such struggle there is true life.
Give me honesty and patience;
so that I can organize our community.
Bring forth song and celebration;
so that the Spirit will be alive among us.
Let the Spirit flourish and grow;
so that we will never tire of the struggle.
Let us remember those who have died for justice;
for they have given us life.
Help us to love even those who hate us;
so we can change the world. Amen. (Cesar Chavez)

The story of Jesus is to be proclaimed and celebrated. Some will hear and rejoice, some will remain indifferent, some will become hostile. The story of Jesus will not always be accepted, but it must be told. (Henri Nouwen)


(Sunday of the Word of God)

(Week of Prayer for Christian Unity)

“You Say You Want a Revolution?”

            A little-noticed story from a few weeks ago – described as “revolutionary” by some in the Catholic press – was how lay men and women were now reading the Scriptures during the pope’s weekly audience rather than clergy.  Revolutionary?  Really?  Unremarkable, I would say – except, unfortunately, it isn’t.  Any more than recent appointments of several non-clergy persons to Vatican positions heretofore reserved to priests or bishops should be thought revolutionary.  LikeSister Raffaella Petrini, secretary-general of the governorate of Vatican City -- the first woman to hold the second-highest office in that department.  Or Sr. Alessandra Smerilli, interim Secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.  Or the seven laypeople, including six women, serving on the Vatican’s Council for the Economy.  Or the three women theologians appointed consultants to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one of the more powerful Vatican departments.  None of this should be revolutionary more than a half-century after the Second Vatican Council which, presumably, affirmed the equal dignity of all members of the People of God, recognizing the many gifts of the Spirit present in all the baptized, with their corresponding ministries. 

            Indeed, Pope Francis on this day, now-designated the “Sunday of the Word of God,” will be installing several lay persons, men and women, in two official ministries of the church – lector and catechist.  Francis opened Lector and Acolyte two years ago – what were formerly known as “Minor Orders” reserved for those preparing for the priesthood – to lay men and women as well as creating the new ministry of Catechist last year. 

            But of all these appointments and initiatives that might be justly termed “revolutionary,” is that of Sr. Nathalie Becquart, the first woman ever to serve as undersecretary to the Synod of Bishops, and integral to the planning and execution of the next such gathering on the topic of “synodality.”  The revolutionary aspect of her role at the upcoming Synod is that, in addition to her executive duties, she will have voting rights.  In her own words, “It is to highlight that what we have in common through baptism is more important than all our differences of status, age, vocation or roles” (Crux; Jan 8, 2022).

            That, of course, is the teaching of St. Paul.  On Epiphany we heard him say we are all “copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6).  Today he elaborates this teaching through his extended metaphor of one body, having many parts, with each member give to drink of the Spirit, bestowing various gifts and ministries in the church (cf. II).             

            But to give you an idea of how sensitive clergy can be at preserving their heretofore exclusive prerogatives, at a meeting last October to inaugurate the global phase of the synod, Sr. Becquart supported a proposal to alter the usual seating plan, mixing cardinals and bishops with the laity. But synod officials decided such a break with tradition would be too abrupt and cardinals retained their reserved places in front, with open seating for everyone else. “Maybe within a few years… it would be possible to mix everybody,” she remarked. (Wall Street Journal; December 22, 2021).  Maybe in a few centuries -- this is, after all, a very slow-moving revolution!

            Which brings me back to the new lectors at the pope’s weekly audience.  While not a liturgical function like the installed ministries he will be conferring today, given all these initiatives taken by Pope Francis, could such thing taken together be called “revolutionary?”  Perhaps.  Yet, more than a half a century after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council it can still seem a novelty when the lay members of the Body of Christ are called upon to serve in roles not requiring priestly ordination. 

            The same might be said of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that runs from January 18-25.  I wonder how many Catholic parishes will have done much of anything to observe it beyond some perfunctory petitions in the Prayers of the Faithful – if that.  Perhaps because so little ecumenical progress has been made since 1908 when it was first held and despite the “revolutionary” statement that, “The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council” (Decree on Ecumenism 1).   That statement – made in 1964 – can still startle, much as lay persons reading the Scripture papal audiences can too.

            Well, to quote the Beatles, “You say you want a revolution.... You say you got a real solution.... You tell me it's the institution, Well, you know, You better free your mind instead.”

And that’s what it takes, right?  Freeing our mind about everything from who sits in the front row, who’s empowered to read out of the book like Ezra did (I), and about who we must recognize as members of one body whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons – or any other division we might create in our constricted minds -- [for] the body is not a single part, but many (cf. II).  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.



Intercessions (cf. Msgr. Joseph Masiello)

Baptized in one Spirit into one body, we pray for those who, with us, are members of Christ, and for all the human family.

That Christians, richly diverse in their gifts and ministries, may pray and work for the unity of the Body of Christ, with all the members concerned for one another.

That the leaders of the nations may labor without ceasing to free their peoples grieved by war and violence, and made captive by injustice.

That a deep respect for human life may be a hallmark of God’s holy people, and that our elected leaders, at every level of government, may strive mightily for God’s sacred gift of life to be reverenced from its beginnings to its appointed end.

That those who serve our community in the ministry of catechist may faithfully proclaim God’s Word to the adults and young people entrusted to their care, helping them to take the Holy Word to heart and to grow in living the Gospel way of life.

That our lectors, whose ministry opens the Word of God to us week by week, may be blessed for and faithful to their service, and that the Word may be more and more spirit and life for us.

That our service men and women, First Responders, and medical personnel may be blessed with safety; and, the seriously ill in our community and among our family members and friends gifted with compassion and the healing touch of our God.

That Easter’s glorious promise may be the hope of those among us in mourning; and, all our beloved dead come to rest eternally in the loving embrace of God’s peace.

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 Christ our Lord. Amen
(ICEL; 1998)

Interlude (J. Michael Thompson)


Returning from their exile drear,

God’s people gathered in the land

And, urged by Ezra’s preaching, turned

From foreign ways to God’s command.

Like Ezra, Jesus spoke God’s word

In midst of people gathered round,

Proclaiming God’s redeeming love,

Which frees, and lets the lost be found.

Each Christian, formed by God’s rich Word,

Is of one Body vital part

And called by Christ to exercise

Their gifts with talent and with art.

Rejoicing, let Christ’s Body seek

To live our common calling out,

That, baptized in the Spirit’s grace,

We God’s good news will daily shout!

(Spiritual Communion)

After the Lord’s Prayer, welcome the Word of God, spoken and embodied by the Christ, to enter more deeply into your heart and into your life.  Seek to drink more deeply from the one Spirit and ask for the grace to place the Spirit’s gifts ever more effectively at the service of the Body of Christ.


Closing Hymn (John Michael Talbot)


The Spirit of the Lord is upon me
Because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor
And to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captive,
And to set the prisoner free,
To announce a year of favor of the Lord
To comfort all who mourn.

The Spirit of God
Is upon me
The Spirit of God
Has anointed me
The Spirit of God
Now does send me
To the poor, to heal the brokenhearted.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.