Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
Is 9:1-4, Psalm 27, 1 Cor 1 1:10-13, 17-18, Mt 4:12-23
Jesus invites us into the light as we hear today’s gospel. He references the words of Isaiah who contrasts the former days with better times to come for Zebulun and Napthtali, knowing the political and economic conditions of the region were more than familiar to his hearers. Instead of abandoning or fleeing from contention and darkness, Jesus enters in, bringing relief, bringing hope, bringing what is needed. And in this context, he calls Peter and Andrew, James and John, you and I to take up this work with him. We don’t bring light to light. We bring light where it is needed. Isn’t this the mission of the church? So the gospel tells us Jesus went about proclaiming good news to those who would listen to his message to help overcome what spiritually ails or darkens the lives of a very troubled population. In explaining why we pray at 4 a.m. each morning I tell people that, from ancient times, people of faith kept Vigil in prayer to wait for the dawn, when Good gives the light of a new day. Most often crime occurs in darkness, however this is not simply the darkness of night, it is moral or spiritual darkness and we pray that God’s light will pierce this darkness to bring about the kingdom Jesus is establishing.
But first in this gospel, the four Jesus is calling had to put aside their nets, leave their boats, surrender their usual occupations and preoccupations. Come after me is about more than geography. The phrase is about accepting the invitation to a shift. The word ‘after’ here may again be about more than space. It’s a call to live as Jesus lived. Model your thinking and your behavior after mine. Monastic living is very much about detachment and attachment in the very way Jesus is suggesting in this passage. As Bob Krieg said last night those living a contemplative monastic call remain in one place geographically, but they experience interior change over and over again as one embraces the cross of metanoia.
So, we take in what Paul is writing to the church of Corinth. He asks a question the faithful need to consider in our life as church today – is Christ divided? Being united in Christ is a challenge. However, as we more deeply understand who calls us to follow, to proclaim and to bring light where darkness has robbed God’s beloved of hope, the ‘be in agreement’ may look more like very different pieces of a large computer fulfilling very different functions but bringing about a common purpose. For Jesus to go to Zebulun and Naphtali may have seemed odd to some of the people in Jesus’ day, but he knew the need of the people and responded, inviting along the way Peter and Andrew as well as James and John, that with him they might transmit a light coming from a new understanding of God who doesn’t leave us where we were but brings us into a much fuller experience of living – accomplishing this right where we are.
Hopefully we can all reflect on Jesus’ words “Come after me” throughout the day. Then being drawn into a fuller understanding of what this call entails, while experiencing the desire in ourselves to say yes, we can embark on the adventure along with the four who were fishing that burins us to build up the Body of Christ offering God’s light to our sisters and brothers.