Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Year C ‘The Joy of the Lord is your strength’

Every person is a precious mystery. An individual cannot be weighed by public opinion; he cannot be measured by his conditionings; he belongs to no-one but himself, and no creature in all the world can penetrate his mystery except the God who made him. The dignity of every person is beyond our reckoning.
Fulton J. Sheen Lift Up Your Heart

January is a time for dieting, for turning away from the excess of Christmas, and so at one level when we hear in this morning’s Old Testament reading ‘Eat the fat and drink sweet wine’ we could be quite concerned. But we are also told to ‘send portions to anyone who has nothing ready’ – to feast then in the Kingdom of God involves everyone eating. In a world where we produce enough food for all to eat and not go hungry, it is good that there is a campaign to put an end to Global Hunger, as this is what the Kingdom of God looks like in action.

In St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians we see what it means to be the Church, the Body of Christ, through our common baptism. We may be different, but we all need one another, and are dependent on one another, a place of unity in, through and with Christ. Looking back on this two thousand later we can see the wounds which mar the Body of Christ and also how they can be healed.

In the Gospels we have seen Our Lord baptised to show the world how to turn away from sin and how to be reconciled with God, we have seen the Kingdom of God come among us in the Wedding at Cana. It is a place of joy, which we cannot understand, like the steward – the best wine has been kept for now, the new wine of the Kingdom, better than we have ever tasted, beyond our expectations and our efforts. We have seen in Our Lady’s word to the servants, ‘Do whatever He tells you’ that obedience is the key to new life in Christ.

In this morning’s Gospel we Jesus ‘full of the power of the Spirit’ teaching people, showing them the way, and being glorified by them – they give to God what is due. When he comes to his home town and is given the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, he proclaims ‘good news to the poor’ ‘liberty to captives’ ‘new sight to the blind’ ‘freedom for the oppressed’ and ‘the year of the Lord’s favour’. As He will say in the Sermon on the Mount ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God’. The good news of the Gospel is for those who know their need of God, their spiritual poverty. Those who are slaves to sin can find true freedom in Christ; it allows us to see the world with new eyes, where everyone is our brother and sister, where we can be one in Christ.

‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’ we, here, today, have heard this among us, we have come to be fed with Word and Sacrament, to be fed by Christ, with Christ, to have new life in Him, and to share that new life with others, a new life and a freedom which the world cannot give. So let us be fed to have new life in him, to live that life and share it with others, for the joy of the Lord is our strength.

As Christians we are to live lives of joy and love in Christ, and through him, rejoicing in our new life in baptism, in the saving sacrifice of the Cross, in the hope of the Empty Tomb, in our unity in the Body of Christ, so that all creation may resound with the praise of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, to whom be ascribed as is most right and just, all might, majesty, glory, dominion, and power, now and forever.

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