Today…is holy to the LORD your God. Today…this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing. These lines taken respectively from the First Reading and the Gospel have one key word “today.” Last week we heard from the Gospel account of the wedding feast of Cana that famous line “do whatever He tells you,” and I said what Jesus was telling us to do was imbedded in last weeks responsorial psalm, “proclaim His marvelous deeds to all the nations.”
Linking together the readings from last week with these readings for today we are challenged to act right now. In the first reading Ezra the priest brought before the assembly the law of the Lord. As he read it he spoke plainly and said, “today is holy to the LORD your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep.” While each day is filled with exciting new adventures often times we come across new challenges and trials. It is when we are faced with new challenges and trials there is a tendency in each of us to complain rather than seeing those challenges or crosses as a share in the Jesus’ cross. When we face those uphill battles in our lives we shouldn’t allow ourselves to complain or be sad but rather rise up and see it as a sign that we are alive and have found favor with God.
Our Lord Jesus picking up the scroll in today’s Gospel read from the prophet Isaiah. There is something to be said about the law which Ezra quoted and what Jesus said in the Gospel from Isaiah and that is the purpose of the law and the acceptance of Christ and His mission bring about true freedom and peace. Laws especially God’s law shouldn’t be seen as restrictive but rather as something that leads us to true freedom and happiness.
What does it mean for us to accept Christ and His mission? The word “accept” by its definition means to take “something that is offered, say yes to an invitation, or to believe in something.” All three of these definitions can be applied when we talk about accepting Christ. First, Jesus offers each of us something, and what he is offering us is His very self. Second, Jesus extends to us an invitation which He does all throughout the Gospels to come follow Him. Finally we are called to believe in something, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” What is He inviting us to believe in and for the answer I quote what Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah, “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.” Our Lord is asking us to believe that He is the one, the one sent by God to do all these things the prophet Isaiah foretold.
On Tuesday of this past week we commemorated a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States which opened the floodgates to one of the greatest travesties in modern times the death of innocent human lives through the sin of abortion. As Jesus hung on the cross, he cried out to the Father, “Forgive them, for they no not what they do.” Many do not comprehend or understand the gravity of this sin. A few weeks back we celebrated the feast of the baptism of the Lord where Jesus was revealed as His beloved Son and in Baptism we too are revealed as His children. Each time the sin of abortion is carried out we abort not just a gift God has given us; we abort one of God’s children. To reject life in any stage is a rejection of God.
On Friday many people across the United States gathered in Washington D.C. to peacefully march against this decision and to make a firm stand for the gift of human life. All Christians are to affirm and hold sacred the gift of life from the moment of conception to natural death. All men, all women, and all children are equal in dignity no matter of their ability, creed, ethnicity, gender, mobility, race, or social class, for we are all seen equally in the eyes of Almighty God. Saint Paul’s first letter to the people of Corinth highlights this truth while a body may have many parts all the parts make up one body. When a part of the body is hurt not only does it have an effect on that part of the body but as an effect on the body as a whole.
Today not only must we stand firm in our resolve to protect the dignity and sanctity of all human life, we as Christians must be ready to support those whose lives have been affected by this sin and any other sin. When we sin we hurt the entire body. It was no coincidence that yesterday as many marched for life, they did so on the Feast of the conversion of Saint Paul. May we pray for those who do not understand the gravity of the sin of abortion and also pray for those whose lives have been affected by this sin and as I mentioned any sin, that they too like Saint Paul may experience comfort, forgiveness, and peace!
Brothers and sisters I also want to mention that this upcoming week we honor Catholic School’s week. It is fitting as we talk about openness to life we mention also one of the major responsibilities we have and that is to education. When we accept the mission of Christ, we accept a responsibility. The primary educator of children is parents. Parents have the primary responsibility to provide their children with an education in the faith. As a Church we have a rich tradition through our Catholic Schools and Religious Education Programs to assist parents in their responsibilities. As we begin Catholic School’s week I would publicly like to thank all those who help us keep that rich tradition available. May we continue to pray for our parents and our teachers in the school and in religious education program that the Lord may sustain us in our mission to provide a Catholic education!
Taking all this into consideration we must strive to accept and live God’s law and never forget that the mission of Christ is not for the future, it is meant for today.