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3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time: National Bible Sunday

In a gathering of friends, I just mentioned the names Kris Aquino and James Yap and everybody joined in the conversation on the juiciest story of the couple’s latest Lovers’ Quarrel (LQ). During a breakfast with priests, someone mentioned the name Jason Ivler and people animatedly gave their commentaries on the life of this young suspected murderer. While in the company of seminarians, one of them loudly inquired: where in the Bible can you find: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink?” A stunned silence followed, as nobody knew the answer.

Why is it that we are so familiar with the development of current events or the lives of celebrities and yet so ignorant when it comes to the Word of God? The answer seems obvious. We become familiar with things to which we are exposed. Today’s generation is habitually glued to the television, hooked on newspapers and magazines, and now, addicted to the computer. From these we have the great advantage of obtaining valuable information and impressionable images. They are a valid source of knowledge for us.

However, information is not just God’s plan for us. In his heart, the Lord desires us to have not mere collages of information but high doses of inspiration, formation and transformation.

The Lord wants to inspire his people today as he has done before. The first reading recounts how Ezra, after the exile of the Jews, tried to rebuild the broken spirits of the people by exposing to them the Book of the Law. The people were filled with emotions as they heard the promises of the Lord and realized how the same are being fulfilled in the Lord. Through the Word of the Lord, the book of life, strength returned to the people.

God also wants to form and transform the lives of the people he has chosen. In the gospel, Jesus, reminiscent of Ezra, takes the scroll, reads from it and declares that the Scriptures have been fulfilled. What did he read? He read from Isaiah’s prophecy about the Messiah coming in the power of the Spirit and declaring a jubilee – glad tidings, liberation, freedom, healing. As the people listened to him and looked at him, they could only gaze with amazement at the man who was the longing of their hearts.

How did Ezra inspire the Israelites? How did Jesus proclaim his divine mission of formation and transformation? Both of them broke open the Word of God and offered it to the people. Today, this continues to happen when we take the Word of God in the church and in personal or community settings, reading and understanding God’s direction for our lives.

There is something more interesting than news. There is something more compelling than controversy. It is the Word of God that guides our lives and enlightens our path. Open your Bible and discover God’s Word. Study it, and listen to it. Apply it to your lives. If you want something to change your life forever and provide you with lasting peace, follow the irreproachable adage – read the Bible, share the Bible, live the Bible.