Friday, January 24, 2020

Gospel text for Sunday 26 January 2020

Matthew 4:12-23         When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness 
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death 
light has dawned.”
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

Reflection       John is imprisoned but his ministry of repentance is not arrested. Jesus picks up his cousin’s torch and turns it toward the land of darkness. Galilee is the land of which the prophet First Isaiah spoke seven hundred years before Jesus was born saying, “In the former time (God) brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali (when they were invaded by the Assyrians), but in the latter time (God) will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. (God) is bringing light into the darkness.” 

Jesus is part of something greater than himself. Rather than acting for his own self interest and preservation, Jesus is acting to fulfill Isaiah’s words. Jesus is participating in the transformation of human consciousness.  The theological term for this is metanoia and refers to a change in the way we think that leads to a change in the way we live our lives.

Jesus is bringing the God of the Torah, God who invites the Jews to a fundamental change of mind and heart, to admit the Gentiles. Jesus leaves the safety of his home in Nazareth, crosses borders and travels into a hostile foreign land that has been the seat of darkness for hundreds of years. Here darkness refers to the condition of the peoples’ minds. Sitting in the dark people are overshadowed by their preoccupation with death. In contemporary terms this translates; life is all about me; my safety, security, esteem, power and control. 

Jesus appropriates John’s message proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Returning to the Greek word for repent, metanoéō means to think differently, reconsider, to change our mind for the better. And what is the change of mind to which Jesus invites us?  With God life is not deferred to some happily ever after life. With God life is here and is now.

Soon we will see Jesus open the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah, read and then assert, “The scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” In other words, in Jesus we encounter Divine Presence on earth. But then and now most people sit in darkness, in the shadow of death because we are preoccupied by our inordinate concerns for our personal security, safety, esteem, power and control. Let me be clear. The message is not that we should forgo all concern for our personal security, safety, esteem, power and control. The message is, life does not depend on us alone. Life depends on God with us. 

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