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Contents: Volume 2 - Third Sunday of Ordered Time (A) January 26, 2020


 

  The

Third

 Sunday

2020

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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1.

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Sun. 3A 2020

Our Gospel reading this Sunday tells of Jesus's specific call to follow Him to two sets of brothers . Each of the four men left their ordinary lives to do exactly that. Thanks to them, we (and/or our parents) have heard the Good News, and we have been baptized into this same calling.

Preaching the Good News as a follower of Jesus can be done in many places and in many ways to many people. Some people find that their Baptismal call takes them to foreign lands, to unknown people, some of whom have never even heard of God. Others stay right where they are planted, sometimes unceremoniously re-planted, to look for the Light and to bring light into the darkness of the circumstances in which they find themselves and those around them.

The truth is that there is darkness in many aspects of people's lives today, no matter where they live or who they are. Prayerful discernment is necessary to figure out where God wants each of us to be present as light in His Name, then and where else afterwards. It may not be very far, but the depth of the need may be very deep. Sometimes it may take awhile to even see the Light ourselves even though we know it is always there.

Ordinary Time is settling in time, settling in enough to absorb and review the teachings of the past liturgical season. Jesus said, "the kingdom of God is at hand" and we are charged to illuminate our part of the kingdom with the Good News of the Light of Christ. It is a good time to ask prayerfully once again what the Lord has in mind for each of us to do.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Third Sunday of Ordered Time January 26, 2020

Isaiah 8:23-9:3; Responsorial Psalm 27; 1st Corinthians 1:10-13 & 17; Gospel Acclamation Matthew 4:23; Matthew 4:12-23

Upon hearing of the death of his cousin John, the Baptizer, Matthew tells us that Jesus returned to Galilee. As he returned to his home territory, he moved from his childhood home in Nazareth to the larger, thriving city of Carpernaum. Matthew makes a point of saying Galilee was home to the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. The significance of this arises from the history of those two tribes. They were the first of the Chosen People to be overrun and lose their autonomy. The Assyrian empire under Tiglath-pilesan III in 733 B.C. conquered the region. It was the beginning of the end of the grand kingdom created by David and lifted to its highest glory by the wisdom, political and commercial systems created by Solomon.

There was a significant element to this tragedy. Two thirds of the population of Zebulun and Naphtali were forced into exile, scattered among the pagan nations of the world. This was the beginning of the diaspora – the scattering of the Hebrews throughout the known world. At the birth of Jesus, when Joseph took the infant and his mother into Egypt, they would have gone to the Jewish community well established there. That community was one of several communities of dispersed Israelites. Some thirty or forty years later, Peter, Paul, and the other apostles spread the Christian message by preaching in synagogues throughout the world. Those synagogues supported the faith of the Chosen people. Every city first visited by the apostles had a synagogue where Hebrew Scriptures and traditions were taught and practiced. The tragedy of the Assyrian victory over Naphtali and Zebulun became the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah we hear this Sunday. The anguish of the people has taken wing; dispelled is the darkness of the Assyrian victory: the people who walked in the darkness and defeat have seen a great light. Those dispersed, those who lived in the diaspora, were rejoined to the larger community of the faithful.

We come to a fuller understanding of Matthew’s gospel if we recall that he is writing for Jews – and not just those living in Judaea, but for all the Chosen People living in exile. These were those who listened to the prophets, to those who understood the history of their people. These are those who practiced the Law of Moses given them at the beginning of their journey to becoming a nation of God. They worshipped the Living God, not one made by human hands of wood, or gold, or silver, or stone. Their God is present to his people. Their God creates unexpected victory out of crushing defeat. Clearly, this repeated history of the Chosen People is summed up in the ministry and the ultimate work of Jesus. Jesus is present to the people by curing illnesses and banishing disease. He returns to the Community of Faith those whose circumstances have denied them membership. His cruel death is a defeat of his ministry, or so it seems. For God raised him up on the third day in an unexpected victory as a new creation, the first-born of those who embrace and practice his message, his way. His experience is our experience as we overcome death by being raised to new life – if we wish to be lifted-up and practice the Way of Jesus.

In the reading from the first section of Isaiah, Zebulun and Naphtali are said to have been degraded by the hands of the Assyrians. Isaiah doesn’t leave it there. He continues the story to its hoped for ending. "In the end he has glorified the seaward road, the land west of the Jordan, and the district of the Gentiles. These three regions make up the region of Galilee. It is called the district of the Gentiles because the Assyrian empire replaced two thirds of the Hebrew population in Galilee with strangers, Gentiles from other conquered nations. That is the reason they are called Gentiles since two thirds of the population is of pagan blood. The question arises, however. How does Isaiah consider this region so devastated as glorified? The answer is Matthew’s narrative this morning. Jesus begins his ministry of preaching and healing. Isaiah writes in his poetic manner, "Anguish has taken wing; dispelled is darkness: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone." We heard these words of Isaiah in our Christmas season marking the birth of the Messiah.

Jesus begins his preaching in Galilee. Most of us hear this and let it pass without much thought. William Barclay, the revered Anglican Biblical Scholar, writes that Galilee was a well-chosen region in which to begin the messages of the Gospel. Galilee was a small area densely populated. The historian Josephus writes that the region contained two hundred and four villages. This large population was supported by a wonderfully fertile soil that produced crops well beyond the needs of the population. In addition, there were caravan routes that ran along the borders of Galilee. The great Seaward Road ran along the Mediterranean and carried commercial traffic from the north all the way to Egypt. The caravan routes from the east ran along the Sea of Galilee and connected Carpernaum with the east and the west. The people of Galilee were bombarded with commerce and the thinking of the entire middle east. This population was more open to new thinking and culture than those in the south. Those same routes carried Hebrew pilgrims from homes and businesses located in all nations to Jerusalem for the three great celebrations of the faith of the Hebrews. Exile did not prevent, did not eradicate the faith from that people’s life. Recall the Acts of the Apostles narrative about the Pentecost fifty days after the Resurrection. "Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem."

Jesus begins his ministry in a heavily populated region, blessed with great natural resources. Because of exposure to many cultures and histories the natives of that region were accepting of progress and new ways of thinking and living. This is the region where Jesus began his public ministry. He went about teaching in the synagogues and healing every disease and illness among the people. This was the glorification of the region of Naphtali and Zebulun of which Isaiah writes. The Galileans knew Isaiah’s prophecy and would have been excited that the former glory of the Kingdom of David and Solomon was just on the horizon.

Not only were the people of Galilee encouraged. Those persons who traveled the caravan routes who heard the message and carried the news of this Jesus throughout the synagogues and gathering places of the twelve tribes in the diaspora. Jesus preaches as did his cousin John. "Repent of your ways. The reign of heaven is now, is beginning."

We write "reign" of heaven instead of Kingdom. When we use the word "kingdom" we fall into thinking of a place, of territory under the control of a King, president, dictator, or tyrant. This is not God’s way. God does nothing half-way. God’s interventions always exceed expectations. The understanding of the prophecies regarding the Messiah were based on an idealized memory of the reigns of David and Solomon. David subdued the enemies of the nation and bought peace and prosperity to the land. His son Solomon brought beauty, art, and most of all wisdom to the people. It was the peace of David and wisdom of Solomon that was the expectations of the people of Jesus’ time. Over time, David’s sinfulness was overlooked. Solomon’s heavy-handed taxation was forgotten. The Temple of Solomon was such a marvel that the citizens forgot the burdens its building laid on their shoulders.

Our responsorial psalm this Sunday insists that "The Lord is my light and my salvation." What is this light; what is this salvation? The light is the wisdom that guides how we live. Wisdom provides us understanding of our place in the world and in God’s eyes. From such understanding comes joy. Salvation is freedom from the yokes and the bars mentioned in Isaiah. That freedom is within our hearts and minds even though we may be enslaved economically, socially, or even treated as chattel. Even though circumstances burden us, the freedom that is within us is the faith. We trust that God remains in charge and is present to us even in our darkest, most dismal hours. In that presence we are free of chains that come from the violence and terror of those who would subdue our hearts and rob our minds of personal purpose and meaning.

This Sunday begins Jesus’ public ministry. It is a ministry of healing, of defeat of disease. The reign of the God is rising. Jesus message is just that. His beginning in Galilee is a sign of the defeat of the ways of the world on the very highways of the world. The very center of agriculture and commerce insist that we live in and grow in the world. His beginning in a prosperous land, filled with people, at the crossroads of the world indicate that all are called to this way of the Lord. In the gospel this Sunday, he chooses his first messengers. In effect he calls us as well to be his messengers. We’re not going to walk the Sea-ward Road or the Road from east to west. We walk in our own place. And our goal is the Peace of Jerusalem. Our goal is the wisdom to live in peace and wisdom. The Messiah is here even now calling us to follow in his way. Can we find the courage to listen and to do?

 

Carol & Dennis Keller + Charlie dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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JESUS, THE BRIGHT LIGHT OF GOD IN OUR DARKNESS

There are some valleys in the Swiss Alps that are so deep, that in the middle of winter the rays of the sun don’t penetrate for days, and sometimes even for weeks. For the people who live in those valleys, life is often experienced as one long night. This is particularly depressing for the children there. So much so that when one day a ray of sunshine shone in a classroom after nine days of darkness, the children jumped on to their desks and shouted for joy.

The precious light of day remind us of Jesus ‘the light of the world’ (John 9:2). It’s as true as it ever was, that in Jesus, ‘the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light’ (Isaiah 9:2: cf. Matthew 4:16). You and I are among those favoured people. The light of his blessings started with our Baptism, which was once known as ‘The Enlightenment’. Ever since Jesus has been shining on us his light of faith, his light of hope, and his light of love.

The beginning, the dawn of the bright rays of his powerful influence have been traced by Matthew in today’s gospel to his move from his hometown of Nazareth to that of Capernaum on the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee. There, in that semi-pagan district, he begins his public ministry as the Light of God, which Matthew sums up in this single sentence: ‘From that time Jesus began to proclaim, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near"’ (4:17). What Jesus is saying is that the time has arrived for God to come out of the shadows and darkness surrounding Godself, and to demonstrate through Jesus just how God is our King. Jesus is implying: ‘To know what kind of King God is, just look at me. See what I do. Hear what I say. Notice the kind of person I am. Then you will discover that the God I represent, the God I bring to you, is not a God who rules in fear. No, your God and mine is a God who leads and guides with gentleness, with affection, with patience, and with compassion.’

Everything, in fact, that we can say about Jesus the man we can say about God, about God who is in Jesus, about God who is one with Jesus. Jesus is warm and friendly. So is God. Jesus is honest and truthful. So is God. Jesus is loyal and faithful. So is God. Jesus is welcoming and forgiving. So is God. Jesus is unselfish and generous. So is God. Jesus is kind and loving. So is God. Jesus is accepting and caring. So is God. Jesus lays down his life for others. So does God in Jesus. In a nutshell, Jesus is the human face of God, God’s enlightening 'good news' in person, speaking for God and acting for God.

Jesus is the good news of the truth we are searching for. In a thousand and one ways he shows us that there is a God, and that this God is the fullness of love. Jesus is the good news of the hope we need. That we can reject sin and walk in the footsteps of Jesus! That this life is succeeded by a new and better life! Jesus is the good news of the peace we crave. We become worried and troubled about too many things, but he is the strength and peace that calms our troubled minds and heals our divided hearts. If only we let him, we can experience him day after day lighting up our lives as our Way, our Truth, and our Life.

But Jesus does not and will not force himself into our lives. This is beautifully illustrated by an incident involving Holman Hunt, who in 1854 painted the now-famous picture, ‘Jesus, the Light of the World’. [Footnote: Visitors to Sydney will find it beautifully reproduced in the stained glass window above the West Door of the ‘Garrison Church’ in ‘The Rocks’.] The artist portrays Jesus, crowned with thorns, carrying a lantern, and knocking on a closed door. But when he showed the finished original to some friends, one of them pointed out what seemed to be a serious omission – there was no handle on the door. ‘There is no mistake,’ the artist replied, ‘we must open to the Light. The handle is on the inside.’

There are people not far away living in the darkness of ignorance, prejudice, illness, loneliness, poverty, rejection, bitterness, moral confusion, sadness, guilt and grief. So we continue to acknowledge and respond to the message brought by the Light of the World to ‘the people that walked in darkness’. He is sending you and me to bring his light to them with the challenge: ‘Recognise me for the good news that I bring and the good news that I am.’ So too we keep praying that beautiful contemporary hymn (1987) by Graham Kendrick, popular in churches of all denominations, and in which this is the recurring refrain:

‘Shine, Jesus, shine.

Fill this land with the Father’s glory,

Blaze, Spirit, blaze.

Set our hearts on fire.

Flow, river flow.

Fill the nations with grace and mercy.

Send forth your word, Lord.

And let there be light.’

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John


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Volume II Archive

We keep up to six articles in this archive.  The latest is always listed first.

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