Lectionary Reflections: Third Sunday of Ordinary Time [a] January 26, 2014

Engaging Faith | Wed, Jan 22, 2014

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary Reflections: Third Sunday of Ordinary Time [a] January  26, 2014

Copyright@2014, Center of Concern


Isaiah 8:23-9:3

1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17

 Matthew 4:12-23 or 4:12-17



Jan. 26 – Feb. 1: Catholic Schools Week

Feb. 2: Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Feb. 2: Super Bowl Sunday



“In teaching us charity, the Gospel instructs us in the preferential respect due to the poor and the special situation they have in society: the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others.”

- Pope Paul VI, “Call to Action,” 23


“Individual initiative alone and the mere free play of competition could never assure successful development. One must avoid the risk of increasing still more the wealth of the rich and the dominion of the strong, whilst leaving the poor in their misery and adding to the servitude of the oppressed.”

- Pope Paul IV, “On the Development of Peoples,” 33


“Why should there be rich people that have more than they need and poor who don’t have anything? God didn’t plan it that way. He planned for us to be equals. That’s why we have to build a society where everyone has the right to live a decent life.... Maybe it sounds like I have my head in the clouds. But I’ve heard about these astronauts in the United States who’ve gone into outer space. And I figure, hell, if these astronauts can get to the moon, then why can’t ordinary folks like us learn to share the earth?”

- Elvia Alvarado, Honduran human rights advocate


“Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach him we also need lights close by – people who shine with his light and so guide us along our way.”

- Pope Benedict XVI. “Spe Salvi,” 49


“Do not rob the poor because they are poor,

or crush the afflicted at the gate;

for the Lord pleads their cause

and despoils of life those who despoil them.”

- Proverbs 22:22-23


“Poverty in the world is a scandal. In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons. Poverty today is a cry.”

- Pope Francis, June 7, 2013


Thoughts for your consideration

It may be helpful to read the scriptures today in light of the church’s preferential option for the poor. Pope Francis, in his address to the Archbishop of Canterbury on June 14, 2013, said “Among our tasks as witnesses to the love of Christ is that of giving a voice to the cry of the poor.” 

The ministry of Jesus is about freedom for the oppressed and good news to the poor. Jesus is about bringing a light to all people – including all the men and women of our age.

As we hear the word of God today, we might ask ourselves:

  • Where is the darkness today?
  • What are the oppressions that people experience today?
  • Who are the oppressed?
  • How am I (we) oppressed?
  • Do you ever find that you are part of a group that is oppressing other people?

Jesus goes into the “land of darkness” and ends up revealing the light. It is in the backwaters of Galilee and it is among the poor that the good news of Jesus Christ comes to light. It is there that Jesus finds people who are free enough to hear the good news. It is there that Jesus finds people who are able to let go and enter into God’s plan.

If we are to experience the light of Christ, we must not be afraid of walking into the darkness and into the challenges of life.  We must not be afraid of being close to those who experience poverty or oppression. We must be with those in need. It is there that we will learn the way of Jesus Christ. It is there that we will experience liberation.

Catholic Social Teaching invites us to put the poor and vulnerable first. This is not only for their sake but for our own good and the good of the world. Only then will we be free enough to see the light and shake off the mantle of oppression.


Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

  •  When have you lived with or worked with people who were poor or oppressed?
  • What did you learn? How were you changed?


  • Where is the darkness today?  
  • Where do your experience the dark?
  • What is it teaching you?



"How would spirituality help a man of the world like me"? said the businessman.

"It will help you have more", said the Master.


"By teaching you to desire less".

From Anthony DeMello S.J. at 


Actions - Links

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has designated January as Poverty Awareness Month.  See .


“A Season for Nonviolence, Jan.30 to April 4, is a national 64-day educational, media, and grassroots campaign dedicated to demonstrating that nonviolence is a powerful way to heal, transform, and empower our lives and our communities.” Mohandas Gandhi was killed Jan. 30 and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed on April 4. This event honors their vision for an empowered, nonviolent world. For information, go to  or .


“Crazy Facts”

“The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink” reveals the crisis of women in poverty. In an era when women have solidified their position as half of the U.S. workforce and two-thirds of the primary or co-breadwinners in American families, the reality is that one third of all American women live at or near the brink of poverty. This is defined as less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $47,000 per year for a family of four.”

Forty-two million women, and the 28 million children who depend on them, live a single incident – a medical bill, a late paycheck, or a broken-down car – away from economic ruin. Women make up nearly two-thirds of minimum-wage workers, the vast majority of whom receive no paid sick days. This is at a time when women earn most of the college and advanced degrees in this country, make most of the consumer spending decisions by far, and are more than half of the nation’s voters.



Prayers of Intercession

Response: God, hear the cry of the poor.

For all those who go hungry today, we pray…

For those who have no home in which to sleep this night, we pray…

For men and women who cannot find work that pays a living wage, we pray…

For children who are denied a quality education, we pray…

For women who do not have equal rights with men, we pray…

For refugees and immigrants, we pray…

For all people who are denied political freedom, we pray…

For all those who live in fear of torture, political oppression, and even death, we pray…

For the poor in all places, we pray….


Prayer - Meditation

Our God hears the cry of the poor.

Blessed be our God.


I will bless Yahweh at all times, 

God's praise ever in my mouth.

Let my soul glory in the Lord, 

For God hears the cry of the poor.


Let the lowly hear and be glad: 

Yahweh listens to their pleas; 

And to hearts broken God is near, 

For God hears the cry of the poor.


Every spirit crushed God will save; 

Will be ransom for their lives; 

Will be safe shelter for their fears, 

For God hears the cry of the poor.


We proclaim the greatness of God, 

God's praise ever in my mouth; 

Every face brightened in God light, 

For God hears the cry of the poor.


Our God hears the cry of the poor.

Blessed be our God.

Ps. 34/John Foley, S.J.



Copyright © 2013, Center of Concern