Celebrating the Word of God

01-22-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh Iorchir, VC

From the year 2019, and following Pope Francis’ directives, the third Sunday of Ordinary Time of every year is set aside for the celebration of the Word of God. The purpose of this celebration is to re-emphasize the centrality and absolute importance of the Word of God, not only in the Liturgy of the Church, but also in our individual lives. We are urged to reflect on the joy of the Gospel and invited to lend and commit ourselves to the universal and joyful proclamation of and witnessing to the Gospel values knowing that the ultimate reward for faithfully sharing this joy in our world and time disproportionately outweighs whatever cost we may incur and have to bear in the process.

Jesus, the incarnate Word of God, came to establish and proselytize the Reign of God in its perfect form on earth, and to ultimately offer the sacrifice that would reconcile man and his Creator, thereby restoring humanity to its original state of innocence. The Divine Redeemer knew He would require the active collaboration of an inner circle of disciples to ensure the consistent spread of His message and to lend permanent duration to His mission. He therefore chose twelve Apostles in His own universal dispensation to perfectly mirror the old Israelite dispensation which was built on the twelve tribes. The Gospel at this weekend’s Liturgy present’s St. Matthew’s account of how Jesus began His work of preaching and how he elected the first four members of the Apostolic college.

Instead of screening the elite scholars around the Temple area for disciples who would hit the ground running, Jesus chose to walk along the sea of Galilee where He found common fishermen whom He invited to become essential participants in His ministry. It has been in the character of God to usually choose the unworthy, perfect them, and have them commit to things greater than they or others would ordinarily not think they could achieve. There is no limit to what a person chosen and empowered by Grace can do for the sake of the kingdom. Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised to find that we ourselves, in spite of our frailty and obvious weaknesses and unworthiness, become subjects of God’s call. We should not be afraid; God empowers those He chooses for ministry.

St. Matthew reports that Jesus offered Simon and his brother, and later James and John, the invitation to become “fishers of men.” They responded immediately, positively and totally. Jesus walks the streets of our community everyday looking not just for disciples but also for witnesses and ministers. Often, when the invitation to be holy finds us, we let it pass or find excuses why our positive response would not be now. What is your response to Christ’s invitation for you to commit to one or more ministries in our parish in selfless service to God and in diligent deepening of your faith? God is calling you and He desires an immediate, positive and total response and commitment as our ancestors in faith exemplified.

In Judaism, it was only permissible to cease the practice of one’s livelihood and break family ties for the sake of the study of God’s Word, the Torah, the Law. In calling his disciples to abandon everything, not to study the Torah but to follow him, Jesus placed Himself in the role of the Law of God. He is God’s Word incarnate. Imitating Him is a form of studying God’s Law and to do this, the Chosen ought to effect a radical severance with an unholy past in order to commit to a righteous relationship with the One who makes our lives perfect and offers us the true peace that this world cannot give us.

Please be kind and may God bless you.

Fr. Manasseh