January 27, 2013 – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
One of the challenges in today’s society is the belief that faith is a very personal thing, something between oneself and God. Even among those who consider themselves Catholic many maintain that they are good Catholics because they have an active prayer life and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Today’s second reading from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians in particular could not make a stronger statement about faith and how it is closely tied to the concept of community. “For in one spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor 12:13). Paul goes on to explain that the body — the Church, our faith community — cannot function or survive without each member playing an active part.
That, of course, is the essence of stewardship. Each member, each part of the body, has been granted certain gifts and a specific purpose. If we fail to acknowledge those gifts, or if we fail to seek and find and carry out our purpose, our vocation, in relation to the body, the whole community may suffer. “As it is God has placed the parts, each member, of the body into the place he wanted it to be.” (1 Cor 12:18)
The Gospel begins with the absolute beginning of Luke as he declares that he is undertaking a “narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us” by Jesus and His ministry, Scholars continue to debate why the Gospel of Luke, in the account he presents, is addressed to “excellent Theophilus.” It is worth mentioning that Theophilus means literally “friend of God.” Thus, it can be assumed that it is addressed to us as a community and as individuals for the purpose of confirming and strengthening what we know and believe about His birth, ministry, death, and Resurrection.
The Gospel for today is in two sections — the first section is the brief preface Luke included to explain his purpose in writing, and the second leaps ahead to the fourth chapter, which seems to launch His public ministry. Between Luke’s prologue and his report on Jesus in the synagogue in Nazareth, Luke describes Jesus’ birth, His presentation in the Temple, His Baptism, and His temptation in the desert. Jesus’ statement at the end of today’s Gospel message might be viewed as the definitive moment when His ministry officially began: “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Lk 4:21)
Paul tied each of us to Jesus’ ministry in the second reading. He indicated how important each of us was to the Body of Christ, to the Church, to our own faith communities. Stewardship is represented by a desire to share through gratitude, a sense that we are in communion with the Lord and with one another. Paul states it eloquently when he says, “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.” (1 Cor 12:26)