Sunday Readings & Reflections


Theme: A Genuine Celebration of the Word

First Reading: (Neh 8:2-4a.5-6.8-10);
Responsorial Psalm:Psalm 96 ;
Second Reading:(1 Cor 12:12-30);
Gospel: (Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21);
Resources used:
*The Sunday Missal, Paulines Publications Africa


First Reading (Neh 8:2-4a.5-6.8-10)

The passage of today is a description of this first solemn celebration of the Word and contains useful suggestions for us.
First of all he calls an assembly of all people old enough to understand and reads from the book from dawn till noon (2-3). Nobody stays away. Our Sunday meetings do not last very long, and yet many Christians stay away for no good reason.

Ezra organises the meeting well, he prepares a wooden dais for the reader to stand on (4). Our readers and those responsible must take care of these aspects. If the faithful cannot hear the readings because there is too much noise or the acoustics are bad, find some other place to celebrate the Word.

It is important that the position of the body indicates respect for what we hear. Some people almost lie down, or go on talking, or move around as if the church were a market place.

The word of God should be explained in simple language, understandable by all. The animators of the Word must study the readings days in advance.

If nothing ever changes in our communities, it is a sign that the proclamation of the Word has been inadequate.

The day of the meeting with the word of God is always a feastday (10). The certainty that God always speaks to his people and is always with them should be a source of joy.

Second Reading (1 Cor 12:12-30)

Paul makes a comparison well-known to the ancients. He says the community is like the human body which is made up of many parts, each with its proper function. Every part of the body is important and none can be substituted by another.

In those days the comparison with the body was used to convince slaves to accept their position and to serve their masters. Paul uses it differently: everyone should be equal in the eyes of all. If there must be a difference, he says, let there be greater respect for the weakest, and more attention for the poorest (22-24).

According to Paul the most important charisms are those relating to the proclamation of the Word: apostles, prophets, and teachers (cf. Rom 12:6-8; 1 Cor 12:8-10; Eph 4:11).

There is no doubt that the service of the Word comes first since not only the faith but the life of the community comes from and is nourished by it (Rom 10:17).

Gospel (Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21)

The main part of the liturgy of the Sabbath consisted in the reading of the word of God, by members of the community. The first reading was always from the book of the law (the first five books of the Bible), and the second from the prophets. The president of the synagogue would invite an adult to comment on what had been read. Jesus had no difficulty in accepting the invitation to speak (16).
When Jesus had finished reading he rolled up the scroll, hands it back to the server and sat down. All eyes are on him. At that time whoever sat down to instruct others was considered a master, a teacher, and Luke tells us that Jesus is now our master; our attention must be on him alone, we must not look to anybody else.All the Old Testament books lead to him; once this is achieved they can be rolled up. Why then do we read the Old Testament books during our celebrations? Because they are our preparation for listening to Christ.

The person appointed to read the second lesson could choose any text he wanted. Jesus chooses verses from the prophet Isaiah, “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” (17-19).
Jesus says, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” The time has come for victory over oppression, the blind will see again, the lame will walk, the poor will rejoice.

Jesus gave us his plan in these few words, the liberation of people from all kinds of slavery. We must keep proclaiming this hope and so continue his work. How do we do our work? Do we open the eyes of the blind, that is, the eyes of those unaware of their misery? Are we, like our Master, against all forms of oppression? Do women enjoy the same rights as men, or are our daughters free to marry whom they wish? Do those who attend our Sunday celebrations hear words of salvation and liberation?

Sunday Readings

First Reading Nehemiah 8:2-4a.5-6.8-10

They read from the book, from the law of God, and they gave the sense.
A reading from the Book of Nehemiah
In those days: Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law. And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden pulpit which they had made for the purpose. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people; and when he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God; and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands; and they bowed their heads and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground. And Ezra and the Levites read from the book, from the law of God, clearly; and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

The word of the Lord.
Psalm 19

Your words, O Lord, are Spirit and life.

The law of the Lord is perfect; / it revives the soul. The decrees of the Lord are steadfast; they give wisdom to the simple. R.

Your words, O Lord, are Spirit and life.

The precepts of the Lord are right; / they gladden the heart. The command of the Lord is clear; / it gives light to the eyes. R. The fear of the Lord is pure, / abiding forever. The judgements of the Lord are true; they are, all of them, just

May the spoken words of my mouth, / the thoughts of my heart, win favour in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer! R.

Your words, O Lord, are Spirit and life.

1 Corinthians 12:12-30
You are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians

Brethren: Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptised into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single organ, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those parts of the body which we think less honourable we invest with the greater honour, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so adjusted the body, giving the greater honour to the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the Church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

The word of the Lord.

Alleluia. The Lord has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives. Alleluia.    
Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21

“Today this Scripture has been fulfilled.”
The beginning of the holy Gospel according to Luke

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed. At that time: Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a report concerning him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as was his custom, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Sunday Reflections

*Adapted from: Celebrating the Word, Year C by Fernando Armellini— Paulines Publications Africa, Revised Edition 2007