Third Sunday of Ordinary Time [a]

Engaging Faith | Mon, Jan 24, 2011

By John Bucki, SJ

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time [a]

January 23, 2011



     Isaiah 8:23-9:3

     1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17

     Matthew 4:12-23 or 4:12-17



January 18 – 25: Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

January 23-24: National Prayer Vigil for Life in Washington DC

January 30 - February 5, 2011: Catholic Schools Week




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.

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, 1967, 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. God 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, the 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.

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


Thoughts for your consideration


It may be helpful to read the scriptures today in light of our “preferential option for 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:

o    Where is the darkness today?

o    What are the oppressions that people experience today?

o    Who are the oppressed?

o    How am I (we) oppressed?

o    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?


Actions - Links


National Prayer Vigil for Life Information Jan. 23-24, 2011: Info can be found at the web site of the Bishop’s Conference at


Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has designated January as Poverty Awareness Month.  See  or


A Season for Nonviolence, January 30 - 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.” Mahatma Gandhi was killed on January 30 and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4. “This event honors their vision for an empowered, nonviolent world.” For info go to or




“Crazy Facts”


The following info about low income working families is from:


“Almost a third of America's working families are now considered low-income, earning less than twice the official poverty threshold, according to a report … by the Working Poor Families Project. The recession, which has incited layoffs and wage cuts, reversed a period of improvement: Between 2007 and 2009, as the recession set in, the percentage of U.S. working families classified as low-income grew from 28 percent to more than 30 percent.”


“Last year, 45 million people, including 22 million children, lived in low-income households, according to the report. As breadwinners lost jobs or suffered pay cuts, the report notes, the number of low-income families grew to 10 million last year, an increase of almost a quarter-million from 2008. The problem is worse among minorities: 43 percent of America's working families with a minority parent are low-income, the report finds, compared to 22 percent of white working families.”


Prayers of Intercession

Response: God hears 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….


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, SJ