Cusp-a point of transition, as from one historical period to the next;
the borders between the twelve astrological signs.
You are considered to be "on the cusp" if you were born
within a day or two of the beginning or end of any sign.

The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak, 1863; Albert Bierstadt

24 January 2010

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time C


This week President Obama will deliver the State of the Union Address. He will stand at a podium before the joint Congress and give an assessment of his administration’s first year and offer proposals for the year ahead. Looking back on the speeches he made during his campaign for the presidency, we can expect some rousing rhetoric that will be crafted to enliven the nation and challenge it to action.
We hear in the first reading that the priest Ezra stood on a platform before the people and read the Torah. The people were saddened by their return to a ruined Jerusalem. By reading the word of God Ezra hoped to encourage the people, and he told them that, “rejoicing in the LORD Must be your strength!”
In the Gospel we hear Jesus standing before the people in the synagogue reading from the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah. He finds the place where “glad tidings to the poor” are announced. “All...looked intently at him [and] he said to them, ‘Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.’”
We have three similar images here, but one makes all the difference in the world. Jesus in the plan of salvation incorporates all his disciples to be his abiding presence in the world to this very day. This is the understanding that Paul explains in the Letter to the Corinthians.
We have just celebrated the mystery of the incarnation of Jesus. That celebration was not just about a baby born in a stable over 2000 years ago. It goes much further beyond. We have just celebrated the baptism of Jesus who needs no baptism. For Jesus, it was his acceptance of his status as a human being. For us, baptism is our incorporation with the life of Jesus. Baptism forges an unbreakable bond that links us to the lavish outpouring of God’s grace. In turn, it requires that we allow that grace to flow through us to work its wonder on all creation.
Paul was concerned that the Corinthians didn’t get it. There were different factions in the Christian community. Some thought they were better than others; that they could get along fine without the others. Some thought their gifts of the Holy Spirit were indispensible, and that those of others had little consequence. It was like a body at war with itself. When any part of the body is hurting the whole body suffers as a result.
This is the “wonder of the incarnation, that, as Christians, we believe that God took on flesh in Jesus, but we also believe that this was not just a one-shot, 33-year incursion of God into human history. The mystery of the incarnation goes on. God is still taking on real flesh inside of us, the community of believers.
Scripture says: ‘We ARE the Body of Christ on earth.’ We’re not a replacement for Jesus’ body, not a representation of it, or even his mystical body. We are his body and, as such, are meant to do all the things he did, including the forgiveness of sins and the binding of each other, through love, to the family of God” (Rolheiser).
If then we are the Body of Christ are we letting God’s grace flow though us as the life blood of that Body? Does the world see in us the Body of Christ? Does it feel the touch of Christ in our touch? Does it hear in our voice Jesus proclaiming:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
This is our ongoing mission as the living Body of Christ.
Almighty Father,
the love you offer
always exceeds the furthest expression
         of our human longing,
for you are greater than the human heart.
Direct each thought, each effort of our life,
so that the limits of our faults and weaknesses
may not obscure the vision of your glory
or keep us from the peace you have promised.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor
Secondary Patron of the Diocese of Toledo

Saint Francis was born at Savoy in 1567. After being ordained a priest he labored diligently for the restoration of Catholicism in his country. Chosen bishop of Geneva, he showed himself as a true pastor toward his clerics and the faithful, strengthening their faith by his writings, works and example. He died at Lyons on 28 December 1622, and was buried at Annecy on 24 January.

you gave Francis de Sales the spirit of compassion
to befriend all men on the way to salvation.
by his example, lead us to show yur gentle love
in the service of our fellow men.
From Christian Prayer

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