In today’s Gospel we hear how the Gospel of St Luke starts with a message to Theophilus and we may wonder who Theophilus was. From what I can find there is no certainty over who he was, but his name does mean ‘friend of God,’1 so in that respect and in reality, St Luke is writing to us all, as we are all friends of God.

We hear in the passage from Luke’s Gospel that Jesus returned to a familiar place and stood up to read in the synagogue on the sabbath day and read from Isaiah; the words very familiar to us even in this day, tell of a time of great joy, when the poor will be fed, the captives freed the downtrodden free, the blind will see and the year will be declared as a year of favour by the Lord. Jesus rolled up the scroll and said ‘this text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’

This message is the same message being preached in every Christian Church. We have been given the Spirit of the Lord; we were given it in our baptism; and we continue to have the Holy Spirit to guide us, inspire us and bless us. The freedom we are being offered is not a freedom from prison, but a freedom from sin. The blind being helped to see, is not a physical reopening of their eyes, but a spiritual ability to see the beauty of the Lord in the scriptures they can hear. When Jesus says, ‘these words are being fulfilled today even as you listen’, he was not talking just about back then, He is talking about today.

The New Covenant sealed with His blood on the Cross fulfils these words forever, and we have received His Holy Spirit and been anointed by Him at our Baptism and Confirmation.

We are in the middle of the octave of prayer for Christian Unity, the letter used from St Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians sums up perfectly why we need to pray for Christian Unity. We are all part of the same body; we cannot fulfil the part of another. We all have our own role to play and we must all be together; all people forming part of the Body of Christ.

Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter, Motu proprio “Aperuit illis”2, published on 30 September 2019; the feast of St Jerome, establishes that “the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God”. Aperuit illis, means He opened their minds. We see in our first reading this week the effect on the people of God when their minds were opened to the Word of God and how reverently they listened; lying prostrate, becoming emotional as the words were read out to them and the meaning explained.

How often are we deeply touched by what we hear? What impact have those times had on us and our faith? The context behind this public reading and show of emotion is the return from exile in Babylon. God’s Chosen people finally being able to listen to God’s Word in the homeland which they had longed to return to. When they had heard the Word of God they were encouraged to celebrate and be filled with joy as this day is sacred.

This celebration of the Word of God, which Pope Francis has initiated reminds us that we need to listen attentively to the Word of God, and that we need to study scriptures to gain a full appreciation of the beauty of the words and that Scripture is a love letter from God to us. All of Holy Scripture has been inspired by God to help us to get to know Him and to love Him. The deeper we delve into His words the deeper our love for Him becomes.

This is a good day to take the opportunity to thank those who put the time and effort into reading at our Masses and to thank those who have completed their Diocesan Recognitio course for Readers. This was held recently and many of our Readers invested their time to help them to serve us in our community and in doing so, they enhance our Liturgy. If you are interested in this, please keep an eye on the Diocesan website or subscribe to the e-news for details of any future sessions.

Every Sunday is made for the Lord. In recent times we have been denied the opportunity to attend Mass in person; thank God we are now allowed to be together again. We can gather as a community to listen to the Word of God, we can share from the feast of His Eucharistic Table, with the added benefit that we can now catch up with one another after Mass. This day was made by the Lord; we rejoice and are glad.

Further Reading

Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)3

CCC 714: Old Testament expectation of the Messiah and the Spirit
CCC 1965-1974: new Law and Gospel
CCC 106, 108, 515: God inspires human authors of Scripture, and readers
CCC 787-795: the Church as the Body of Christ

Please keep in your prayers

  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • The Year of the Eucharist, that this will lead to a fresh outpouring of love by the people of God for the Body and Blood of Christ.
  • The listening stage of the 16th Synod of Bishops which is entitled “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission” that all Catholics will take part.
  • All those working for Christian unity.
  • For Edward who is being baptised at St Bede’s on Sunday 23rd January.
  • Those preparing for and attending the Big Picture sessions on Mondays.
  • Those attending the RCIA course at St Bede’s on Wednesdays.
  • The repose of the soul of Fr Roger Hendry; former Parish Priest at St Michael’s in Tadley, whose anniversary is at this time.

1 Who is Theophilus in the Bible books of Luke and Acts? | Bibleinfo.com

2 Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio of the Supreme Pontiff Francis “Aperuit illis” (30 September 2019) | Francis (vatican.va)

3 Catechism of the Catholic Church (vatican.va)