for the third Sunday of the Year
Is 9:1-4 - 1 Cor 1:10-13 & 17 - Mt 4:12-23
by Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
Is 9:1, In the former time [the Lord] brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2, The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.
At the end of this month of January, like every year, the duration of daylight continuously grows, while the duration of the darkness of night diminishes more and more. At least, this is what we observe in the northern hemisphere, that is to say precisely where the biblical event took place, which each sacred writer wrote down in his own way. Today, in the gospel, Saint Matthew finds the opportunity to remind us of this prophetic announcement of Isaiah, who writes: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined." (Is 9:2)
This "great light", which illuminates the people walking in the darkness, is the long-awaited Messiah, it is Christ, who, prophetically, under the inspiration of the Spirit, leaves Nazareth to go live in Capernaum, in the country of Zebulun and Naphtali. These are two of the twelve sons of Jacob: Zebulun, the second son of Leah; and Naphtali, the second son of Bilhah, handmaid of Rachel. When Jacob was about to die, he blessed his twelve sons, saying to Zebulun: "Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea; he shall become a haven for ships, and his border shall be at Sidon." (Gen 49:13)
When Jesus moves from Nazareth to Capernaum, he goes a little more to the north, to the north-east more precisely, thus indicating to his followers the path that must be taken: they must go to the pagan nations to bring them the light! Let us not forget that, in Christ and with him, we have left the works of darkness to live in the light, mysteriously realizing, through our life of faith, hope, and charity, this saying of Jesus: "You are the light of the world." (Matt 5:14) In the Holy Spirit, through Mary, our Mother, let us bring to the entire world the light of the Good News of God: "The light shines in the darkness." (Jn 1:5)
1 Cor 1:10-11
1 Cor 1:10, I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11, For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren.
I have not yet said anything about the title of this homily: "Repent". It is a word spoken by the Lord in today's gospel (Matt 4:17). It is a word that is valid at all times and in all circumstances. For all of us have faults to correct and bad tendencies to suppress. All of us must leave the darkness of sin to live in the light of virtue. It is true that Saint Paul said: "Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord." (Eph 5:8) But we must, every day, maintain the little flame of our lamp, as the did the five wise maidens, contrary to the foolish maidens (cf. Matt 25:1-12).
Each day, let us do our little work of charity towards God and others: then our flame will shine in the eyes of the world! "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matt 5:16) Let us zealously follow the advice given by Saint Paul on this day: "Let there be no dissensions among you, but be united in the same mind and the same judgment." (1 Cor 1:10) For the unity of the disciples of Christ is essential to all evangelization, as Jesus taught, when he prayed to his Father: "That they also may be one in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." (Jn 17:21) "I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me." (Jn 17:23)
Mt 4:12, Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; 13, and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15, "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles -- 16, 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." 17, From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 18, 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. 19, And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." 20, Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
The calling of Simon and his brother Andrew very concretely manifests the change, the conversion required by Jesus: "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." I recommend that you reread the previously published homilies on this gospel:
May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary turn our heart towards the Lord, the Light of the nations, for the Glory of the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit!