3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): Serving the Word
(Adults, you could begin by reading the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
Each Sunday we listen to the Word of God. This Sunday, though, we celebrate the Word of God in a particular way. We call it the Sunday of the Word of God. We stop to consider how important the Word of God is to us. We can ask ourselves, why is it important?
The Gospel reading for this Sunday is from two different chapters of the Gospel of St. Luke. First, we hear the very first verses of Chapter One:
Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word...
St. Luke begins his writing by letting us know that others have written about Jesus. We know that St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. John also wrote Gospels. Although other people may have also written about Jesus, we only have these four Gospels in our Bible.
St. Luke also mentions eyewitnesses. Eyewitnesses are people who see something happen. This is called, "witnessing" an event. When these people tell others about what they have seen, we call that, "giving witness". These eyewitnesses see Jesus in action and do not keep that information to themselves. They hand on to other people what they have seen. More and more people come to know Jesus by the witness of these people.
St. Luke calls these eyewitnesses, "servants of the word." Until Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John write their Gospels, the Word of God exists only in the voices of the people who tell the stories of what they have seen and what they have heard. What if they never tell their stories? What if Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John never write a word? What would happen to the Word of God? How would we come to know Jesus?
I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth
But people do proclaim what they have seen and heard. St. Luke and the others do write their accounts. Over and over the stories are read and told and proclaimed. Each person who tells the stories of Jesus, each person who reads the accounts of Jesus to another person, serves the Word. They help to hand on the Word of God. All of these people have handed the Word of God on to us, so that we know the truth. We know Jesus and we love him because throughout the years, people serve the Word. Because of their witness, St. Luke is right to call us Theophilus, because Theophilus means "Lover of God."
Next, we turn to the fourth Chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke, after Jesus' baptism.
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.
Synagogues are holy places where Jewish people come together to listen to the Word of God. The Word of God has been the most treasured gift of the Jewish people for thousands of years. For thousands of years they have served the Word, keeping it sacred, copying it out by hand onto long scrolls made, not from paper, but animal skins. We hear the Word of God because of the gift of time of all these people. We hear the Word of God today because of the gift of the lives of all those animals.
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.
On this Sunday of the Word of God, we hear Jesus, himself, reading from the Word of God!
Then Jesus began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
This scripture, Jesus says—the Word of God—today has been fulfilled. As he speaks it, as they hear it, the Word of God is brought to fullness.
In their hearing, the Word of God stands among them, with the scroll of the Word in his hands.
Just among them?
Jesus says, today in their hearing. Today, we hear the Word of God.
The Word of God that exists in the voices of the people,
the Word of God that exists as words on scrolls,
the Word of God that has been lovingly kept sacred,
told and retold,
over and over,
stands among us when we hear it today.
Can we serve the Word, too? Can we tell others what we have heard? Can we copy it out lovingly, keeping it sacred? When we do this, will we know Jesus, the Word of God, standing among us?