The Word and the Body

Reflection for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Member, David Seitz, OFS

This reflection was originally posted in our January 20th newsletter

The readings for this Sunday have what may seem at first an odd relationship. In the first reading, Ezra the priest assembles the people of God after they return to Jerusalem from exile and reads to them from morning until night the scroll of the commandments of the Lord, interpreting it for the people’s understanding. He ends by proclaiming “Do not be sad, and do not weep for today is holy to the Lord your God…for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength.”

Psalm 19 is a hymn proclaiming that the law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing, trustworthy, full of wisdom, right, clear, enlightening, enduring forever, true, and just.

The passage from Luke in the Gospel tells the story of Jesus, returning to his home in Nazareth, opening the scroll and reads from the prophet Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord 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.” Then Jesus tells those assembled, “Today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” If you continue to read in Luke, this story ends with the people being convicted for their hardness of heart and in vs. 29 “Rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.”

So far, our readings have focused on the Word of God being read and taught to the people and show how powerful that Word can be as evidenced by the reaction of those who rose up in fury after being convicted in their hearts by the power of the Word.

The Church seems to have thrown a curve ball at us in the 2nd reading from Corinthians. In chapter 12, St. Paul gives us the great teaching on the Body of Christ. “As a body has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” He goes on to teach that the body is incomplete if any of the parts are missing and he teaches “but that the parts may have the same concern for one another…”

How do we reconcile these two seemingly different themes in the readings? The Word and the Body. Let’s look to the prologue of the Gospel of John for an answer. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus is the Word; the Word that was proclaimed by Ezra the priest; the Word that is exalted in Psalm 19; the Word that was fulfilled in their hearing as Jesus read from the scroll. Jesus, being the Word of God made flesh, comes with the power of the Word as we see by the effect on the people he encounters throughout his ministry. He comes with power and conviction. He brings healing, conversion, hardness of heart and controversy.

When we reflect on St. Paul’s teaching on the body of Christ, of which we are “individually parts of it”, can we even imagine that we, by nature of being joined to the body of Christ, our head, come with power and conviction? Can we comprehend that WE, You and I, as the body of Christ, can claim to be, in a sense, the Word of God made flesh? Do we bring healing, conversion, hardness of heart and controversy? Are we a Word that is perfect, refreshing, trustworthy, full of wisdom, right, clear, enlightening, enduring forever, true, and just, as in Psalm 19?

This is our calling as Christians. We are commanded by Jesus to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (MT 25:19-20)

This is what the Franciscan Action Network strives to do each day. We bring the Word to our nation’s leaders through advocacy, through public presentation, and while reaching across both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill, even partnering with other religious denominations and secular organizations to advocate on our core issues that we can agree are important to help 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”. We bring the Word with power, because by our action and advocacy, we cause people to react and be convicted of heart, either towards conversion or at times hardness of heart. That is what Jesus encountered in his ministry. Can we expect those proclaiming the Word today to experience anything different? Sisters and Brothers, we are one body, living in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not of this world, as Jesus told Pilate at his trial. Our Kingdom knows now Earthly borders. We are the Body of Christ, in the Kingdom of God striving to bring justice to all who are “individually parts of it” regardless of the Earthly borders that may be in place. Won’t you please help FAN proclaim the Word?

David Seitz, OFS
FAN Board Member

Published in: on January 22, 2019 at 10:19 am  Leave a Comment  

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