Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
LK 1:1-4; 4:14-21
January 27, 2019

The State of the Union Address scheduled for January 29 has been postponed to a future date yet to be determined. More than a speech, this is an opportunity for the leaders of our country to come together in our nation’s capital, and reaffirm our identity and dignity as Americans. It is a time when we are reminded of and recommitted to our purpose to live as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. The uncertainty surrounding this national tradition, which even in the most challenging of times is uplifting, does not speak well about the “state of our Union.”

Each of our Readings this week is, in its own way, a “state of the union” between God and humanity. The First Reading offers insight into the emotional state of Israel as their leader gathered the nation in the ruins of The Holy City. Four centuries before, Jerusalem had been invaded and destroyed. The Jewish people were deported to a pagan country, where they lived as a captive nation. Finally released, they returned to the long abandoned scene of total destruction. The challenge they faced was overwhelming.

Ezra began the process of rebuilding the nation on the solid foundation of God’s Word. Proclaiming and preaching from “from daybreak till midday,” he reminded Israel of something extremely important that, during their years in exile, they seemed to have forgotten: they were The Chosen People!They listened. Their mood changed. They began to see that they were not simply faced with rebuilding a city, but also reclaiming their dignity, as well as the mission entrusted to them by God.

In our Gospel, Luke describes an ordinary Sabbath liturgy in the little village of Nazareth. As it turns out, it was anything but ordinary. The Holy Spirit had prepared something quite extraordinary. On that Sabbath, the people heard The Word of God from the very lips of God. Like a president laying out the vision for a bright future, Jesus used the message of Isaiah the Prophet to remind the community of our Creator’s vision for the future of all humankind.

Finally, speaking to the Christians in Corinth, St. Paul is doing some serious community building. His message rings with the urgency that we hear in the First Reading and the Gospel. His vision for the Church is a perfect union in Christ, where the common good is primary. Paul’s “state of the union” affords no place for personal ambition, competition, or mistrust.

All three Readings are amazingly relevant for us today. Few of us are faced with lives in complete ruin, but many of us are threatened by those thoughts, feelings, uncertainties, ambitions, and desires that threaten the state of our union…with God, family, Church, and humankind.

Today we are each challenged to examine our lives to see if we are doing our very best to live as God’s Chosen people “from daybreak till midday,” and throughout the coming week, we should listen to the Word of God and recommit to the Covenant, working as God’s partners in building the Kingdom. We should examine the state of our union with our Creator, with other creatures, and with all of creation, using our own special gifts and talents to insure that God’s vision of one holy nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all…becomes more than a vision. We should proclaim and then do our best to make this year…a year acceptable to the Lord!

It sounds challenging. But the power of the Holy Spirit is with us…and the Lord is our strength. We can do it!