(Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Park Ridge, 8am; Saint Catherine’s Church, Jimboomba, 5.30pm)
27 January 2013
(Readings: Neh 8:2-6, 8-10; Ps 18; 1 Cor 12:12-30; Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21)
If I could begin with a small advertisement: you may have seen reports of the March for Life in Washington DC in recent days. This year is the 40th anniversary of the landmark Roe vs Wade decision in the US. That decision, along with others throughout the world, paved the way for the tragic killing of millions and millions of unborn babies through abortion. In the US alone, one in every five unborn babies are killed by abortion. It is surely one of the greatest human rights abuses ever, and its something we should rise up against. We don’t have the huge marches that occur in North America, but in Brisbane City next Saturday we have the Rally for Life at 2pm where we do have a chance to speak up for the dignity of life, and indeed the right to life of the unborn. More details are in the newsletter.
In the Second Reading today Saint Paul speaks of Christ’s body. Like any human body it is made up of many different parts – each with it’s own function, each with it’s unique role to play in the whole body. From Saint Paul’s writings we have the image that we are familiar with: together we are Christ’s body. The Church – the community of the baptized – is the living body of Christ on earth. Through the members of his body, Christ continues to bless the world, to heal, to teach, to reconcile, to lead people back to the Father.
Saint Paul was dealing with a real problem in the community at Corinth, where certain individuals and groups within the Church were causing great unrest. They were acting like an eye saying to a hand: I don’t need you; or like the head saying to the feet: I don’t need you.
One of the things we can be grateful for in the Church is the great variety of groups and movements. The Holy Spirit touches people in different ways, and leads them to use their unique gifts in a particular way at a particular time. Think of the saints: they all had unique callings. Blessed Mother Teresa’s calling was not the same as St Mary of the Cross (MacKillop). Saint Francis of Assisi had a different calling than St Therese of Lisieux. And so the unity of the Church is not a uniformity. Rather, the one Spirit leads everyone to profound unity, a unity that respects differences without destroying them. And so, in the Church – as the body of Christ – we won’t all necessarily be doing the same thing. However, each one is called to respond to the particular call of the Holy Spirit to them, and to be respectful of the different calls that others have. One calling is not better than another, and no part of the body can tell another part that they are not needed. The Church “extends the presence of the Risen Lord throughout history, specifically through the Sacraments, the word of God and the charisms and ministries distributed among the community” (Benedict XVI, Angelus, 24 January 2010). We can give thanks to God for the many different ways that the members of our own parish community make the presence of the risen Lord visible, and pray as well that all of us will continue to respond to the call of the Holy Spirit on our hearts.
In the Gospel today Jesus gives his inaugural speech, and says that all the promises of God through prophets are being fulfilled in him. He is the one anointed by the Spirit; he is the one who brings good news to the poor; who brings liberty to captives, sight to the blind; freedom to the downtrodden.
As we hear that declaration of Jesus we’re invited to ask ourselves: have I allowed Jesus to fulfill those promises in me? Have I allowed him to free me from the things that enslave or limit me? Have I allowed him to take away my blindness to see his will for my life? If we submit to Christ then we will experience the freedom of the children of God – like all the saints before us. Despite the fact that we know this we might be like Saint Augustine who said, “Yes, Lord … but not yet.” We need to pray for the grace to overcome any hesitancy we have in allowing Christ to free us.
When we’ve experienced that freedom that Jesus brings us, then we – as his living body – need to do as he did. We need to bring good news to others. We need to help others experience that new sight, that freedom, that joy that Christ brings. “The test of the genuineness of our conversion to Christ and our experience of freedom is our eagerness to help others experience what we have experienced” (365 Days with the Lord: Liturgical Biblical Diary 2013, St Pauls).
God is present among us now. We are the body of Christ in our world now. We are called to bring Good News to the poor, and freedom to all who are bound up in any way. May we respond to the Holy Spirit moving in our hearts so that we can say with Jesus as we hear the promises of God in the scriptures: “This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.