Sunday, January 24, 2010


Today's readings all have to do with God's presence.

In the 1st Reading, the assembled Israelites stood and listened attentively, then bowed down and prostrated themselves, as Ezra read from the law of God. After 70 years of exile, those who were children when they left their homeland, along with those who were born in exile and had only heard what adults had told them about their promised land, were now "home". Clearly, they understood that the book of the law was, for them, God's presence among them. Even today, where is the tabernacle in synagogues? Right smack dab in the center, prominent, on a raised platform (no "side chapels around the back" for Jews when it comes to the תנ"ך).

In the Gospel, Jesus has returned to the Synagogue in Nazareth, a place he must have known well. He reads Isaiah's prophecy of, well, himself. He reads, then sits in the chair (a sign of authoritative teaching) and tells the assembly that, today, they have seen Isaiah's prophecy fulfilled. They were in the presence of God, whether or not they comprehended it at that moment.

Jumping back to the 2nd Reading, St. Paul gives us that beautiful "Body of Christ" analogy. If we can recognize Christ's presence in the Word (we stand for the Gospel, we pray that the words may permeate our mind, lips, and heart, and the responses go from the 3rd person "Thanks be to God" to the 2nd Person "Glory to YOU, Lord", and, "Praise to YOU, Lord Jesus Christ") and presence on the altar or in the Tabernacle, only then can we make the jump to his presence in everyone we know (and even those we don't).

See? It's all about presence. Easy.

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