Today’s readings show that the early Christians understood how Jesus had fulfilled the expectations of ancient Israel. Describing the humble beginning of the public ministry of Jesus, today’s Scripture readings teach us that Christ has brought us from the darkness of sin into the Light of God (4:16) by calling us to repentance (4:17) and the acceptance of God’s rule over us. (You may add a homily starter anecdote)
Scripture lessons summarized:
The first reading contains the prophetic reference to Christ as the Light that dispels darkness. Matthew wanted his readers to recognize that the Light of which Isaiah spoke had finally appeared with the coming of Jesus. The refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 27) reminds us, The Lord is my Light and my Salvation. The second reading advises the Corinthians to live as children of the Light, avoiding divisions and rivalries, because several factions had arisen among the Corinthian Christians, each claiming allegiance to its first Christian teacher or to a particular Apostle.
In today’s Gospel passage (Mt 4:12-23), Matthew explains that what Isaiah prophesied has been fulfilled through the preaching and healing ministry of Jesus.By his ministry of inviting people to the Kingdom of God through repentance, Jesus has brought Light to peoples living in darkness, thus fulfilling God’s original promise. In addition, the Gospel describes the call of the first disciples (4:18-22), and Jesus’ own preaching, teaching, and healing ministry which has led people to repent of their sins and accept the Good News of God’s rule (the Kingdom of God). He has also chosen ordinary fishermen with no formal training in Mosaic Law to preach the Good News, and they have been very effective instruments in the hands of the Holy Spirit, continuing Jesus’ mission to the world.
We need to appreciate our call to be Christ’s disciples:
Every one of us is called by God, both individually and as Church members, to be His disciple. The call is both a privilege and responsibility. The mission of preaching, teaching and healing which Jesus began in Galilee is now the responsibility of the Church and of each individual Christian. Our response to the call begins with our reception of Baptism and Confirmation, the Sacraments of Initiation. That response is meant to be strengthened through the years by the Eucharist and Reconciliation and to be made manifest in Matrimony or Holy Orders. We are healed and consoled in the Anointing which also prepares us for death. As we respond to Christ’s call, we gain spiritual strength through our personal and family prayers, our Sacramental life and our faithful study of the Bible and the Church’s teachings.
2) We need to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom: When we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, we are sent forth to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom and to defend the Catholic Faith. Each of us Christians has received a unique call to preach the Good News of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation through our daily life. This call challenges us to rebuild our lives, homes, and communities in the justice and peace that Jesus proclaims. As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us ask the Lord Jesus to give us the strength and perseverance to answer his calling, so that we may faithfully serve the Lord, doing His Divine will as best as we can by cooperating with His grace.