Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Two men unroll parchment scrolls and each read to the people. Their proclamations signal the beginning of a vast new era.
One man is Ezra the scribe, and the other is Jesus of Nazareth. Four centuries separate their Proclamations.
Ezra (First Reading) is in Jerusalem after the return of the Jewish exiles from captivity in Babylon. They arrived to find Jerusalem a ruined city with widespread moral decay.
But at last, a new temple was finished in 516 BC, and the ruined city walls were rebuilt.
To celebrate, Ezra stood up on a high wooden platform built for the occasion so he could be heard and seen, and he “read plainly” from the scroll that held “the book of the law.”
Not only did they have their city again, they also now heard the Word of God again and had a new Temple where they could worship.
Their new era had begun!
Four centuries later we find Jesus of Nazareth making a similar return. He is going back to Galilee, the region where he grew up. (Gospel)
Like Ezra, he takes up a scroll, this one containing the book of Isaiah—much of which had been written during the Jewish exile.
He reads the passage which says that the Spirit of the Lord has sent him to “bring glad tidings to the poor, … to let the oppressed go free,” to proclaim a time of favor from the Lord.
This what Ezra had done in the First Reading, but Jesus’ mission is much, much more.
A far greater new era has begun.
After he finished his reading, Jesus sits down and says, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
His mission is to rebuild their hearts, not just their city, to return them to God, with whom is their real home.
Would they accept this startling new epoch?
“Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life”. (Psalm)