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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Feb. 3, 2013

By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service

February 3, Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle C. Readings:

1) Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19

Psalm 71:1-6, 15-17

2) 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13

Gospel: Luke 4:21-30

"Be not afraid" were some of the bywords of Pope John Paul II. The same words, or their equivalent, were uttered by Jesus many times in the Gospels.

Today's Gospel from Luke demonstrates that God is truly in charge of our destinies, giving us valid reason to be without fear when we are obedient to him. Jesus speaks an unpleasant truth to a group gathered in the synagogue because they began to question his authority. As a result, the crowd rushed him and drove him to the edge of a hill to hurl him from it, "but Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away," Luke tells us.

In the Old Testament reading, Jeremiah reports the Lord telling him that he had appointed him "a prophet to the nations" before he was even born. Then Jeremiah recounts God's command to him, rendered in some translations as "gird your loins," another form of "be not afraid," as he tells him to stand firm in delivering his challenging words to the people of Judah.

It is at first puzzling that the New Testament reading is Paul's memorable commentary on the value of love, 1 Corinthians 13. But love is the balance to our need to speak out when God calls on us to do so. We must speak God's truth, but we must do it in love. A full reading of the book of Jeremiah will reveal his love for God's people, and we know that all that Jesus did came from love of his Father and all of humanity.

Today, many would try to silence Catholics who are faithful to the church's call to protect all human life, to protect the sanctity of marriage, to defend the immigrant and the stranger, to stand with the poor and to stand for religious liberty. What words would God use to encourage us to stand firm -- in love -- and to speak up for these essential principles? What else but "be not afraid"?


Where are you compelled to take a stand for the good of others?


"Gird your loins; stand up and tell them all that I command you." -- Jeremiah 1:17a


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