3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - 22nd January, 2017
Liturgical ReflectionMatthew 4: 12-23
Zebulun and Naphtali were two of the sons of Jacob and therefore progenitors of their own tribes. Their land allocation was in the northern section of the Jewish homeland and had over the centuries been overrun by unbelievers.
It is here that we come to the reason for their importance in the story of Jesus’ ministry. It is to these lands that Jesus goes first. It is to these lands, known also as ‘The Galilee’, that he goes to proclaim his message of repentance. Matthew is making it clear that Jesus’ message is for the unbelievers and the unknowing. This is his priority and the Lord is letting us know that it should, as his disciples, also be our priority.
We are comfortable with people who think as we do. The political landscape at this point in history is polarising; one needs to almost ‘gird the loins’ in preparation just to have coffee with friends. To quietly and respectfully explain the intricacies of educational funding, the pedagogy of reading, or climate science can be very wearing, especially so amidst the screech of ‘fake news’ and the ‘shock jocks’.
Jesus calls on his disciples to calmly and respectfully correct the dangerous errors of the world when they fly in the face of spiritual truths: the reliance on physical reality to contain all the answers and the worship of the human intellect are two areas which immediately spring to mind.
How often do we ‘preach to the converted’ but shy away from the more difficult work of answering the harder questions or dealing with the more difficult folk in our society?
Not only did Jesus preach in undesirable areas, he also recruited his initial staff from the group of ‘unfashionable’ Jews from Galilee. Andrew, Simon, James and John were young men who had the strength and the courage for the journey Jesus asks them to take with him. They also had inside knowledge of the people in that region (just as we do in ours). They used that knowledge to help those in need of spiritual nourishment and direction.
Jesus took this raw material and over the next three years he trained these men to be the spearhead of a force that would radically change the course of world history.
New Year’s Resolution – Let’s seek the harder path that the Lord is asking each of us to take.