The 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 22 January 2023
Lectionary Readings: Is. 8:23-9:3; Ps. 27:1.4. 13-14; 1 Cor. 1:10-13. 17; Mt. 4:12-23
Theme: Out of darkness LIGHT comes
Today’sgospel begins with the terrible news that John had been arrested, and so Jesus left his hometown of Nazareth in Galilee and went to the seaside town of Capernaum. While walking by the sea, Jesus asked two fishermen who were brothers from Bethsaida, Peter (Gr for “rock”) and Andrew (Gr form of “man”), to come and follow him. (At that time, Jews commonly had both a Hebrew and a Greek name (Gale, p 18).) Mysteriously, there must have been something about this man named Jesus that caused them to “immediately leave their nets”—their familiar, ordinary life—and follow him. No sooner were they on their way when they met two other brothers, James and John. One wonders: “Was the response of these brothers to Jesus so radical in nature? Would they never return to their father or to their occupations as fishermen?” (Wenrick, 151). They were struck with this unexpected invitation by Jesus to come along and discover what was truly important in life. There was an awareness in these four men that they were being called to a mission they never expected. They sensed the authenticity of this man called “Yeshua” and were eager to hear his message. In the synagogues of Galilee, they had experienced his teaching and proclamation of the good news of God’s kingdom and heard of his acts of healing diseases and illnesses among the people in the area. The lives of these first disciples were forever changed as they experienced the presence and power of Jesus amid the darkness, dreariness, and the ordinariness of their lives and of those around them. The words of the prophet Isaiah rang in their ears as being fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, being the Jordan, Galilee of the gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen” (Mt 4:15-16).
As we begin this new year of 2023, a great deal of darkness has indeed continued to cause fear, lack of trust, violence in our cities, conflicts of all kinds, and war among nations. Innocent people continue to die as injustice and revenge often govern the actions of too many in society. These same problems of poverty, discrimination, inequality, domination by those in power, and various abuses of those on the fringes of society were also part of the world of the first disciples of Jesus. In 2000 years, humanity has been challenged by the words and example of this man from Galilee called Jesus. Jesus the Christ offered the world then and now a new way of living the light of God’s love and care. With Jesus’ death and resurrection, our humanity is raised up, the deaf speak, and the blind have their eyes open to the promise of hope, equality, acceptance, and growth in God’s spirit of peace and unity. The message continues to be spread far and wide offering new life and possibility for all people. The prayer of the Psalmist today offers consolation for “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?…One thing I ask of the Lord…to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life…wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:1, 4, 14). As we face the various challenges of each day, we are called to remember when God first called us by name to take the radical path from darkness into the light of promise. We know we are not alone, and that God walks with us each new day as did Jesus when he walked with those first followers so many centuries ago.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. Are there ways we are blinded by routine or deaf to the cries around us? 2. What are possible actions and words we can offer to bring light and hope to others as this year begins? Bibliography: Gale, Aaron M. The Jewish Annotated New Testament: NRSV, edited by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 9–66. Wenrick, Patrick. Naked, and You Clothed Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle A, edited by James J. Knipper, Clear Faith Publishing, Princeton, NJ, 2013, pp. 151–153.
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Mary Louise Chesley-Cora, USA Bat Kol Alumna 2001