III SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
isaiah 8:23 - 9:3; 1 corinthians 1:10-13, 17; matthew 4:12-23
on one of her trips to melbourne, mother teresa visited a poor and abandoned man. his room was dark and dirty. mother started cleaning the room. the man protested and asked her to leave it as it was. she kept cleaning. under a pile of rubbish, she found an oil lamp covered with dirt. she cleaned and polished it, and then asked him: «how come you never light this lamp?» he asked: «why should i light it? no one ever comes to see me. i never see anybody.» «will you light it if one of my sisters comes to see you?» «if i hear a human voice, i’ll light the lamp.»
two of mother teresa’s nuns began regularly visiting him. his situation and he gradually improved. then one day he told them: «sisters, i’ll manage on my own from now. but do me a favour. tell that first sister who came to see me that the light she lit in my life is still burning.»
what mother teresa did for that poor man (and countless others) was to continue the mission of jesus: to bring light to those in darkness.
the gospel announces the beginning of jesus’ ministry in galilee. it is significant that jesus begins his ministry in galilee, «in the region of zebulun and naphtali»:
for matthew, this is the fulfillment of isaiah’s oracle (first reading) concerning the messiah: the darkness of galilee’s assyrian captivity will end, and the «great light» of their deliverance will appear.
further, galilee was home to jewish immigrants who, for centuries, were surrounded and influenced by gentiles. the judeans looked down on them. jesus begins his ministry among these outcasts, the «lost sheep of the house of israel».
jesus’ mission is to proclaim and establish the kingdom of GOD: a state of love, justice and peace, a reversal of darkness and oppression of every kind. he does this by teaching and healing people, and by calling them to «repent» (to change their attitude and behaviour to receive what GOD is offering them) and to follow him.
we still live in darkness. we still face isolation and oppression.
the LORD, who called simon and andrew, james and john, calls us to follow him to continue his mission to bring light to «the people who sit in darkness».
will i leave my «boat» and «nets» to follow him? what areas of my life need change? to whom and how will i bring light?