Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
Is.8:23-9:3 – Cr.1:10-13,17 – Mt.4:12-23
“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” Jn.1:5
Today’s liturgical readings, which were written many centuries ago, seem to connect quite easily to the world and the culture in which we presently live.
The first reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, depicts vividly the Israeli conditions Isaiah lived in, during Old Testament times. He describes Zubulum and Naphtali as a land of deep darkness; it projects anguish, distress and division. However, in this same scriptural passage, the gifted Isaiah, prophesizes that a great light will come/ positive change is foreseeable/ and there will follow great joy and rejoicing! He says: “the yoke that burdened them, / the pole on their shoulder, / and the rod of their taskmaster” will be smashed when the promised Messiah comes.
At this point, our attention is turned to the Gospel of today. In this biblical passage, Matthew an evangelist, identifies the messiah Isaiah is referring to; it is Jesus! He indeed is the fulfillment of all prophecies proclaimed to the trampled people of Israel. Undoubtedly, in the land west of the Jordan, in the District of the Gentiles the light had arisen, and from that time on…Jesus preaches and teaches in their synagogues. He proclaims the good news of the kingdom, and he cures every disease and illness among the people.
Then, beyond performing these miracles, we find Jesus calling disciples to join him. Simon, who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, along with two other fishermen, James and John, hear Jesus beckoning them, and immediately they leave their boats and follow him. Becoming apostles, they, too, will become followers of Christ, and make positive changes in the world they were living.
As we discern the Biblical scriptures of today, how can we ignore the threatening circumstances of the present 21st century? The evidence is clear that there is still a lot of darkness we can touch into. Right now, we know that many people live in war-torn lands; others face housing and food insecurity; some face concerns for the planet, political turmoil, lack of peace, loss of loved ones, and despair. They, like us, need solace and hope. We, as Christians, are urged to integrate this Chinese proverb: “it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”
Let’s remember that during this calendar season, days are beginning to lengthen, and nature automatically brings additional light to the daytime. Why don’t we follow this encouraging pattern of nature, and work to assuage the needs of all who are struggling through these very dark times. Heart-felt prayers, engaged truth-seekers, positive energy, and good works are clearly God’s call to all in 2023!!
Sr. Shirley Jeffcott, OP