Third Sunday of Ordinary Time. Year C
It has been said that heaven is a house we build here on earth, to then live in, in heaven. I like it because it reminds us that our life here matters. A friend of mine had a birthday during the week and I sent a text of good wishes to which he responded: “The personal story of each of us is a biography that God is writing with our freedom”. Yes, we make choices all the time matters, choices about the way to see life, to judge situations and to act. Our personal story is made up of our choices in response to life’s events.
But God doesn’t leave is having to shape our life story all on our own. He gives us the wonderful gift of the Word of God to help us. Scripture is a living word, like a star to guide us on our journey. It’s a text that can be put into practice “today”, here and now, as Jesus indicates in the Gospel. Notice how Jesus himself was quoting from Scripture. He was reading from the Prophet Isaiah. He who is The Word of God let God’s word guide him. And we find the people in the Old Testament in the First Reading listening all day to the reading of the Book. They found joy in the Word.
If we’re honest we don’t read it as much as we could or should. I remember when I was small we had a beautiful big Bible in our house. It was in the bookcase with other lovely books. I remember taking it out now and then and looking at it. It was almost like opening a mysterious book. There was a picture of a Pope on one of the front pages and then lovely pictures throughout the Bible. But it was something to look at, admire, have on a book shelf. But it didn’t really occur to me that the Word is alive. It has a power that bring about what it says. It is universal. It can be applied to all kinds of situations in all parts of the world, in all conditions.
Three years ago Pope Francis launched the initiative of making the third Sunday of every month a Sunday of the Word. It’s a chance to focus on this great gift in our lives that we can easily overlook. We have the readings at Mass and that’s already something great. But today we have so many possibilities to access the Word of God and commentaries and reflections on our i-phone. I even heard recently of a you tube clip that provides a 20 minute a day guided reading through the main parts of the whole Bible. It’s called “The Bible in a Year” by Fr. Mike Schmitz.
Of course, it’s not enough just to know about the Bible or study it. First and foremost, we are called to live it. To put it into practice. I find that it’s a help just to take one sentence and really try to focus on that, keeping it in mind during the day, allowing it shape my choices and decisions. One of my first experiences of putting the Word into practice was the sentence, “If you are making your offering at the altar and there remember your brother has something against you; go first and be reconciled and then come make your offering”. It prompted me to be reconciled with someone with whom there was a disagreement. I remember keeping the word as my focus helped me throughout all of this.
And in this week of Christian Unity we think of that key word of the Bible that is Jesus’ prayer for unity: May they all be one. Unity can be a word to keep in our hearts and mind. It is a summary word of Jesus’ life and teaching. Unity among Christians, but unity at all levels has to be a priority for us. Of course, unity isn’t uniformity as the Second Reading explains to us. We all have unique roles to play but God wants us to live in unity.
There is a story of an old nun, Gabriella della Trappa who was in a Trappist monastery. She was somewhat cantankerous in character but in the last three years of her life she was transformed. And it was because someone suggested to her that she might take the prayer for unity “may they all be one” as a reason for living. She was so transformed that she was beatified a few years ago.
So, as we go about building the house of our lives this week here on earth, we remember we are building the house in heaven we will eventually live in, a house where unity will be the key word because God is Unity.