Rev. Father Francis Stevenson, Pastor
Assigned Tahoe City: July 1, 2019
From Our Pastor Father Francis
January 23, 2022
The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
The meaning of today’s liturgy is subtle and many-layered.
We need background to understand what’s happening in today’s First Reading. Babylon having been defeated; King Cyrus of Persia decreed that the exiled Jews could return home to Jerusalem. They rebuilt their ruined temple and under Nehemiah finished rebuilding the city walls.
The stage was set for the renewal of the covenant and the re-establishment of the Law of Moses as the people’s rule of life. That’s what’s going on in today’s First Reading, as Ezra reads and interprets the Law, and the people respond with a great “Amen!”
Israel, as we sing in today’s Psalm, is rededicating itself to God and His Law. The scene seems like the Isaiah prophecy that Jesus reads from in today’s Gospel. Read all of Isaiah 61. The “glad tidings” Isaiah brings include these promises: the liberation of prisoners (61:1); the rebuilding of Jerusalem, or Zion (61:3–4; see also; the restoration of Israel as a kingdom of priests; and the forging of an everlasting covenant. It sounds a lot like the First Reading. Jesus, in turn, declares that Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in Him. The Gospel scene, too, recalls the First Reading. Like Ezra, Jesus stands before the people, is handed a scroll, unrolls it, then reads and interprets it.
We witness in today’s Liturgy the creation of a new people of God. Ezra started reading at dawn of the first day of the Jewish new year. Jesus also proclaims a “sabbath,” a great year of Jubilee, a deliverance from slavery to sin, a release from the debts we owe to God. The people greeted Ezra “as one man.” And, as today’s Epistle teaches, in the Spirit the new people of God—the Church—is made “one body” with Him.