Neh. 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10; 1 Cor. 12:12-30; Lk. 1:1-4, 4:14-21
During the Gospel Reading we heard Jesus proclaiming, his mission.
Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom.
He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, for the recovery of sight of the blind and to let the oppressed go free.
At this early moment in his ministry, Jesus announces his mission in continuity with Israel's prophetic tradition. This reading from Isaiah defines Jesus' ministry.
In Paradise when man disobeyed God had proclaimed his judgement and man lost his place there. As punishment for their disobedience, God banished them from Paradise. Jesus came to restore man to that harmony that existed in paradise. And Jesus proclaimed his mission. “He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, for the recovery of sight of the blind and to let the oppressed go free.”
Poverty is a problem out of control in a world that now has the highest standard of living of any time in history. 800,000,000 people live in absolute poverty. 70,000,000 are on the threshold of starvation, every day. Another 400,000,000 consume less than the "minimum critical diet." The infant mortality rate is 14% in the poorest third of the world as compared with 1% in the richest third of the world. Half of the children of the absolute poor do not live to be 5. There are 125,000,000 infant deaths a week, most preventable with simple medical care or hygiene. The poor who survive the first few years will, on average, die before the age of 47, while in our third of the world we will live an average of 26 years longer.
And, of course, poverty is not just a distant thing. And, even though its a relative thing, it is close to home. Luke also goes beyond the material understanding of the word. Situating himself in a traditional society. People who are vulnerable are poor. The elderly are poor. Children and youth are poor too. People who are afflicted by every kind of infirmity are also poor. The poor are those who are in need of the help of God; and in the need of help of us. We find many individual attempts to support one another.
Today's Second Reading from the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians revealed to us how important it is for the members of the Body of Christ to be united. We are now Christ’s body and, individually, we comprise the parts that make the whole. The different parts have different roles and functions. There is not to be division between the parts, for we are one body. We are to appreciate the gifts of the different parts of the body, understanding where deficiency is matched with strength. We must recognize that together we form the body of Christ. We are the feet, hands and eyes of Christ present in our world today: bringing God to others.
Hundreds of years ago, there ruled a king over a vast and rich empire. Peace and prosperity reigned in his kingdom. His ministers were all wise and learned men. His chief ministers were the wisest of them all and he always gave sound advice to the king. The king’s prosperity was largely due to the Chief Minister’s advice.
One day, a question came to the king’s mind. The question ways, “which thing has the most power and strength”? He brooded over this problem for a long time, yet did not get the answer. At last, he summoned his Chief Minister and put the question before him.
The Chief Minister at once replied, “Maharaja, unity is the most powerful thing. There is great strength in unity”. He narrated to him a story to explain his point. The story goes on like this.
A black Cobra lived in the hollow of a tree. The tree was near a field. He was very ferocious and poisonous. He never hesitated to bite other creatures. Near his hole, there was a termite hill. Whenever, the termite came out, the Cobra would attack them and eat some of them.
One day, he decided to slighter through the tiny hole of the termite hill and eat more termites. However, his body could not squeeze through the tiny hole. The walls of the hole wounded his body. The termites saw him trying to enter their hole. They bit him. Somehow, he managed to escape and slither through the field to its other side. On that side of the field, there was an ant hole. The ants were at that time, out of their hole to collect food. The snake saw them and ate a few of them. When the other ants saw him, they decided to attack. Soon, they all united together and formed a large army and attacked the Cobra. The united ants were able to kill the huge snake.
Unity is strength means staying united in all situations. It has a great value in all walks of life. When we are united then we can surmount any challenges and accomplish any goal.
Unity Helps to Grow: No one can grow alone. We need support from others. If we want to grow in business, we need team members. If we need to grow our family, we need a partner. If we have to achieve big success in our society, we need to work together towards that success.
Unity Gives Courage: Unity gives us the courage, hope and strength. Whenever we see injustice in our society, we feel like raising our voice but most of the time we take a step back because we are scared to fight alone. When we get support from others then we can get the courage to fight together for injustice. When we are united, we can bring the change. So unity not only gives hope, courage and hope but also brings a change.
Unity Gives Motivation: When we work as a team, we get motivated by each other and encouraged to work harder. With motivation and hard work, we can accomplish any goal.
Unity Inspires: We cannot get inspiration in isolation but when we are together, we get inspired by one another in personal and professional matters.
Unity Creates Wonders: In today’s world when people are suffering from depression and loneliness, then the neighborhood can be a boon for them by supporting and bringing joy and happiness in their lives.
The mission of Jesus was to bring good news to the world. The mission entrusted to each one of us today is to work for unity. Unity in the world. Unity in the Parish. Unity in our homes.