Homily for the third Sunday of the year - Year A - Mt. 4:12-23
Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
" When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: «The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles - the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.» From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, «Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.»
" As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And he said to them, «Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.» Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people. "
" When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali. "
If the baptism of Jesus inaugurates the public aspect of his mission among men, the moment of John the Baptist's arrest by King Herod (cf. Mk. 6:17; Mt. 14:3) allows Jesus to become very close to each one of us by taking on the appearance of a convert. Indeed, it is at that moment that Jesus decides to return to Galilee and, after preaching for the first time in Nazareth, settle in Capernaum. Now, this region of Galilee is where Christ would tell his disciples to seek him after his Resurrection: Galilee is the region of the new times, the times that are no longer those of the earth, but those of Heaven!
Galilee, Capernaum, it is in this region that Mount Tabor is located, the place where humanity regenerated in Christ would appear in all its splendor, more brilliant than a thousand suns! Jesus wants to definitively appear as a new man: he wants to be converted with the converts! But, you will say to me, Jesus is the Savior, and he has no need for conversion. This is absolutely true... Nevertheless, if Jesus cannot make himself close to us through a conversion of the heart, he can offer us the example of conversion through a change of place: what his soul and his spirit cannot accomplish, his body does!
" From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, «Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.» "
The habit does not make the monk, it is said. This means that if our conversion is purely exterior, it is useless. What counts is the conversion of the heart. Why do we go to Sunday Mass? To see our friends, or even just the priest? Or to give glory to God? Why do we have our children baptized? To do like everyone else does? Or to give faithful servants to the Church and to God? Why do we get married? For human love? Or for love of God? Let us not be afraid to ask ourselves questions like these, for as Jesus says: "the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
" As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And he said to them, «Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.» Immediately they left their nets and followed him. "
Jesus, having moved to Capernaum, lives near the shore of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Lake of Tiberias. It is on the shore of this lake that he would meet Simon and his brother Andrew. Indeed, all three already know each other: they had spoken some time earlier, when Simon, and especially Andrew, were disciples of John the Baptist (cf. Jn. 1:35). Jesus even said to Simon: "You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas." (Jn.1:42) And from that day, Simon-Peter and Andrew, as well as other disciples, followed Jesus...
Simon-Peter and Andrew are quick to follow Jesus. Their bodies follow the Master, but, in truth, their spirit is still far from following the teaching of the Savior of men. A miracle, doubtless that of the first miraculous catch of fish, recorded by Saint Luke (5:4), and which occurs at about this time, will be the occasion for the radical, deep conversion of the disciples: "Immediately they left their nets and followed him."
This is surely one of the great miracles of the grace of God: to make man capable of leaving all in order to follow the Lord! But why did the disciples Simon-Peter and Andrew return to their first occupation, after having followed Christ for some time? Would it not have been Jesus himself who sent them to fish? It is as if the holy women, on the day of the Resurrection, had already transmitted to the disciples the words of the Angel: "Go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him." (Mt. 28:7)
Like Simon-Peter and Andrew, let us await the return of the Lord, not in idleness, but rather as we attend to our daily occupations, such as fishing, for example... For it is these simple daily actions that, when done for the Lord, will make each of us "fishers of men"! May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, who always followed her divine Son, help us with her almighty prayer!