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01/24/16 Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Reggie

In his book Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI asks a surprising question. He asks “What did Jesus actually bring?” Think about it. We still have wars. We still have famine. People still suffer. People still get sick and die. So what did Jesus actually bring?

And Pope Benedict answers the question by saying: “Jesus brought us God. Jesus brings us God.”

We believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man. He is God made visible for us, and he came to give us life. He came to set us free so that we could be truly alive.

In other words, Jesus is much more than a social worker. He’s not a nice guy who came to teach us a few useful things about living together in harmony. He’s not a philosopher who gives us a theory about life. He’s not a politician who promises to fulfill every wish we could ever have.

Jesus is a savior. The gospel today brings this out with startling clarity. Jesus says that he has been anointed to “proclaim liberty to captives and to let the oppressed go free.”  In the Bible, anointing meant that you were chosen and given a special power by God. So Jesus is very serious when he says this. He is a savior who comes to set us free. He comes to bring us back to God.

Let’s be honest: we can’t save ourselves. Sometimes we find ourselves wondering why we seem to commit the same sins over and over again. Sometimes we all say with St Paul: “I don’t do the good I want to do, I do the evil I don’t want to do.” Caryll Houselander tells the following story in the Reed of God. “Through sin we forget what God looks like... I once saw an old, old woman shaking the photograph of her long-dead husband, while tears, which seemed literally to hiss from her eyes, blistered it. 'It won't speak to me', she said, "and I have forgotten his face." Sin is like that. We forget what God looks like.

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