First Reading: Nehemiah 8: 1-4,5-6, 8-10
Then Esdras the priest brought the law before the multitude of men and women, and all those that could understand, in the first day of the seventh month. And he read it plainly in the street that was before the water gate, from the morning until midday, before the men, and the women, and all those that could understand: and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book. And Esdras the scribe stood upon a step of wood, which he had made to speak upon, And Esdras opened the book before all the people: for he was above all the people: and when he had opened it, all the people stood. And Esdras blessed the Lord the great God: and all the people answered, Amen, amen: lifting up their hands: and they bowed down, and adored God with their faces to the ground.
And they read in the book of the law of God distinctly and plainly to be understood: and they understood when it was read. And Nehemias (he is Athersatha) and Esdras the priest and scribe, and the Levites who interpreted to all the people, said: This is a holy day to the Lord our God: do not mourn, nor weep: for all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. And he said to them: Go, eat fat meats, and drink sweet wine, and send portions to them that have not prepared for themselves: because it is the holy day of the Lord, and be not sad: for the joy of the Lord is our strength.
Second Reading: First Corinthians 12: 12-30
For as the body is one and has many members; and all the members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body: So also is Christ. For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free: and in one Spirit we have all been made to drink. For the body also is not one member, but many. If the foot should say: Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body: Is it therefore not of the Body? And if the ear should say: Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body: Is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were the eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, every one of them, in the body as it has pleased him. And if they all were one member, where would be the body? But now there are many members indeed, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand: I need not your help. Nor again the head to the feet: I have no need of you. Yea, much, more those that seem to be the more feeble members of the body are more necessary. And such as we think to be the less honourable members of the body, about these we put more abundant honour: and those that are our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. But our comely parts have no need: but God has tempered the body together, giving to that which wanted the more abundant honour. That there might be no schism in the body: but the members might be mutually careful one for another. And if one member suffer anything, all the members suffer with it: or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it.
Now you are the body of Christ and members of member. And God indeed has set some in the church; first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly doctors: after that miracles: then the graces of healings, helps, governments, kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all doctors? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the grace of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But be zealous for the better gifts. And I show unto you yet a more excellent way.
Gospel: Luke 1: 1-4; 4: 14-21
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a narration of the things that have been accomplished among us, according as they have delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word: It seemed good to me also, having diligently attained to all things from the beginning, to write to you in order, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the verity of those words in which you have been instructed.
And Jesus returned in the power of the spirit, into Galilee: and the fame of him went out through the whole country. And he taught in their synagogues and was magnified by all.
And he came to Nazareth, where he was brought up: and he went into the synagogue, according to his custom, on the sabbath day: and he rose up to read. And the book of Isaiah the prophet was delivered unto him. And as he unfolded the book, he found the place where it was written: The spirit of the Lord is upon me. Wherefore he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he has sent me to heal the contrite of heart, to preach deliverance to the captives and sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of reward.
And when he had folded the book, he restored it to the minister and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them: This day is fulfilled this scripture in your ears.
I am not at all a fan of what is commonly called ‘diversity,’ by which we mean creating arbitrary or out-of-date categories of people and then mandating that each have a representative to demonstrate our bona-fideles. For one thing, the days when a person’s views or background could be fairly estimated based on his ethnicity or religion are several decades in the past, for another the only reason such distinctions matter today at all is usually because someone is trying too hard to be ‘inclusive,’ and finally there’s the fact that these days we often use the desire to create a culturally diverse community as an excuse to squash differences rather than invite them.
I know what you’re thinking; “is there a point to your little rant?” (‘little’ may be replaced with ‘brilliant’ or ‘hateful’ depending on your own viewpoint). Well, kind of. It’s more or less what was running through my mind as I listened to St. Paul’s allegory of the body. It’s important, especially in these days of equality-gone-mad, to remember that different does not necessarily mean ‘unequal,’ nor does ‘equal’ mean ‘the same.’ A rich man is different from a poor man, but that doesn’t mean one is better than the other, or even that it is better to be one rather than the other. Men and women are very different and have different roles to play, but that doesn’t mean one is superior to the other.
You see, we today have fallen into the absurd idea that unless someone has the exact same opportunities to play the exact same roles as someone else, then one side or the other is being treated unfairly. Paul reminds us that we each have our own role to play, and that we shouldn’t waste time trying to play someone else’s role, however attractive it may look to us. It may seem unfair to the nose that it has to endure snot and mucus and being the butt of innumerable jokes, while the eye is praised and cared for without ever having to deal with boogers. But, upon reflection, the nose would probably make a terrible eye, and at least this way it doesn’t have to endure That One Scene in Zombie (those who don’t know what I’m talking about, you probably should be grateful).
The important thing isn’t whether you have one role or another, the important thing is how you perform that role. If God decrees that you should be poor, you can be a poor Saint. If He decrees you are a woman, you need to be a Saintly woman. If you are an ear, you need to be a clear, sensitive, and wax-free receptor. In short, there is no situation, no circumstance that can prevent you from becoming a Saint.