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First Reading for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Nehemiah 8:2-4A, 5-6, 8-10

Summary: Ezra reads the law to the people from morning until noon. The assembly responds with worship and tears, and Nehemiah encourages celebration and sharing, emphasizing joy in the LORD.

Day of Sacred Joy

Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, which consisted of men, women, and those children old enough to understand.

Standing at one end of the open place that was before the Water Gate, he read out of the book from daybreak till midday, in the presence of the men, the women, and those children old enough to understand; and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law.

Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that had been made for the occasion. He opened the scroll so that all the people might see it – for he was standing higher up than any of the people – and, as he opened it, all the people rose.

Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people, their hands raised high, answered, “Amen, amen!”

Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the LORD, their faces to the ground.

Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God, interpreting it so that all could understand what was read.

Then Nehemiah, that is, His Excellency, and Ezra the priest-scribe and the Levites who were instructing the people said to all the people: “Today is holy to the LORD your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep” – for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.

He said further: “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our LORD.

Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!”

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