3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 2017

3A

Isaiah 8:23-9:3.  The land and the people of Zebulun and Naphtali were looked down upon and their fortunes dim but in the end he brought glory, great light, rejoicing merriment and joy instead of darkness, gloom and distress.  Eight centuries before the time of Jesus, the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun were conquered and taken off into captivity by the Assyrians (see 2 Kings 15:29; 1 Chronicles 5:26).  Isaiah was prophesying that these lands, who were first to be degraded or fall before the eventual complete conquest of all the tribes of Israel and Judea, would be the first to see the light of God’s salvation, the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 4:12-23.  “When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,” “he left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum,” “in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,” thus bringing a great light to a people who had sat in darkness,”  “in a land overshadowed by death.” Although John said that he was preparing the way for Jesus, apparently he did not fade away with appearance of Jesus but continued his ministry as before.  Perhaps Jesus did not want to seem to be in competition with John.  However when John was taken out of the spotlight by his arrest, that was the signal to Jesus to bring the fullness of God’s light to the forefront.

Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Then he started choosing his 12 apostles as a way of establishing his new kingdom on earth replacing the old kingdom of the 12 tribes of Israel.  He called them and immediately they left their boats and nets and followed him, as he “proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom, and cured every disease and illness among the people.”  He was really calling upon the people to leave behind their worldly ways to live by heavenly ways while still living in the world.  The call to repentance is a call to separate ourselves immediately from the past and now to belong to and follow Jesus only.  The Old Law of the Old Testament is now obsolete.  The New Law is the Will of God/following Jesus.

 

1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17.

“I urge you” ”that there be no divisions among you.”  “

For it has been reported to me about you” “that there are rivalries among you.” “Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”  In other words Christ is all.  It is he, and he alone, that we follow.  He is the Lord and Master of us all.  He died and rose for us.  We are baptized in him.  We “are united in the same mind and in the same purpose” because we have Jesus as Lord and king over us.

Paul writes, Christ sent me “to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.”  From the Acts of the Apostles we learn that Paul had gone to Athens, historically the world’s center of human wisdom from ancient times, and tried his best with human eloquence to convince them of Christianity.  He failed miserably but learned that it was not eloquence that was the center of our faith, but rather, the cross. Next he went to Corinth, starting his ministry by centering on the cross of Christ.  We follow Jesus to the cross and beyond.