Tuesday, January 21, 2014

3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time 2014

For the past two weeks our readings have focused on the Baptism of the Lord… that moment where John baptizes Jesus in the Jordon river.  This was a significant moment because it marks the start of Jesus’ public ministry… the passing of the prophetic torch from John to Jesus.  From here we follow Jesus, literally and figuratively, into Ordinary Time…

Isaiah 8:23-9:3-1
Psalm 27-1, 4, 13-14
1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
Matthew 4:12-23

Our first reading comes from early Isaiah.  The Northern Kingdom (Israel) has fallen to the Assyrians, and the people of the Southern Kingdom (Judah) fear they are next.  But over some time a new regime has taken has hold of the former Israel, and Isaiah sees this not only as benevolent, but a useful example of God’s mercy.  Lands that were in anguish and darkness now “have seen a great light.”  This light shines from a land that now has a large non-Israelite (Gentile) population, and Isaiah hopes this will convince his fellow Israelites in the South that one only needs to put their trust in the Lord.

These very same words come to us again in our Gospel from Matthew.  After his baptism (which was our gospel from two weeks ago) and his temptation in the desert, Jesus sets out to start his public ministry.  John has been arrested, so it would seem Jerusalem is no longer a safe, and Jesus goes to Galilee.  Why Galilee? First, it’s sufficiently far enough away from Jerusalem (some 65-75 miles north).  Second, it’s not far from his home in Nazareth.  Most importantly to Matthew, however, is that is fulfils the prophecy from Isaiah, which we heard in our first reading, and hear again in our Gospel… that this great light will rise from Zebulun and Naphtali… what we know as Galilee.  The longer version of our gospel has Jesus gathering his first Apostles… the brothers Simon (Peter) and Andrew, along with James and his brother John.

Our second reading continues our journey through Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians. It is apparent that some division has grown within this new Christian community in Corinth, so he reminds them that it is Christ we follow, and no one else. If we were to draw a theme for these readings, it would be commitment.  Isaiah’s commitment to the Lord. Paul’s commitment to the. Jesus’ commitment to his mission. Another word for this type of commitment would be vocation. Following Christ is a vocation, in the truest understanding of the word. A vocation is not just a call to the priesthood or the religious life, but a way of forming one’s daily thoughts and actions to the Gospel.

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