3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Isaiah 8:23-9:3 II:
12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee;
13 and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Caper'na-um by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali,
14 that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
15 "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles--
16 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."
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
18 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.
19 And said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."
20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.
22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
23 And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people.
- The context of the Gospel reading this week, Matthew 4:12-23, helps us understand its meaning and its importance. This is the beginning of Jesus' ministry. In a good movie, the beginning scene gives us a sense of the whole story. It is the same here. John ends his ministry when being arrested, or "handed over" if translated more literally. That foretells Jesus' own ministry: at the end, he will be handed over, by Judas to the Jewish leaders, then to Pilate, then back to the Jews, and finally to be crucified (26:15, 16, 21, 23, 14, 25, 45, 46, 48; 27:2, 3, 4, 18, 26; all from the root word paradidomi).
- This being handed over is the practice of the very first word that Jesus preaches, "repent" or metanoia in Greek. Literally it means to change one's way of thinking (and doing). Changing from what to what? From separating oneself away from God, to surrendering oneself back to God. The key or the summary of the whole Gospel of Matthew is Emmanuel, God-is-with-us, from the moment of incarnation (1:23) to the end of time (28:20, which is the last words of the whole Gospel).
- Adam and Eve wanted to separate themselves from God. They wanted their own wisdom, to be like God, instead of being dependent on God. That also happened to the first Christians in Corinth: they wanted to be superiors to others because they consider their particular teacher, like Apollos or Paul, to be superior to other teachers of the faith. That caused divisions.
- In our own communities today, do we have divisions? We need to repent. How? We need to enter the "kingdom of heaven" where God rules instead of us. We are called to surrender, to listen to God, and to be handed over to God's will, not our will. Jesus did that in his passion, death, and resurrection.
- Our Mother Mary, at Fatima 100 years ago as well as now, calls us to repent, to pray the rosary, and to devote the world to The Immaculate Heart of Mary. The three messages are closely related. When we pray the rosary, we recall her fiat or saying "Yes" to God's will. She is full of grace because God is with her. When we devote the world to her, we follow her fiat to be reconciled back to God, and to enter the Kingdom of God where God rules.
- The first four disciples surrendered their lives to follow Jesus, as we learned in the Gospel reading. For those who do that, God becomes their lives and their salvation, so they have no fear of anything. as we sing in our Responsorial Psalm this Sunday.
- Jesus will elaborate on his teaching of repentance in five discourses. The first discourse follows immediately after the reading of this week, and starts with the beatitudes. We will read them next Sunday.
One Main Point
BUILDING THE KINGDOM OF GOD TOGETHER WITH CHRIST
Jesus announced the beginning of the new Kingdom of God, which is on this
earth. Penance and repentance are the prerequisites to enter this kingdom.
This Kingdom of LOVE and HOLINESS is for all regardless of race or
nationality. By this announcement, our Lord implies that God has intervened
in a special way to save mankind. He also implies that we must be open to
God's grace and reform our ways; we must take side, either with Him or
against Him. Signified by the calling of Simon, Andrew, James and John into
the Kingdom of God, Jesus invites us to join Him as His companions to
participate in building the Kingdom of God. It is a mission.
- Jesus called Simon, Andrew, James and John when He PASSED by as they were
carrying on their daily tasks. Can I recognize God's call in my daily life to
be His companion? Has God ever called on me?
- Contemplate the attitude of Simon, Andrew, James and John when Jesus
invited them to follow Him when He PASSED by. What would be my attitude in
responding to God's calling?
- The Church is the Kingdom of God now. How do I feel about the Church? In
the concept of ministry and mission, what have I contributed in building the Church?
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A synthesis by the Vietnamese Christian Life (Dong Hanh) Community