United community

Gospel Reflection
Traslacion. Photo grabbed from jamesjimenez.com.

Jesus Begins His Ministry in Galilee

12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
15 “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
    on the road by 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 proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

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 fish for people.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Jesus Ministers to Crowds of People

23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.
- Matthew 4:12-23 (NRSCVE)

(A similar reflection was shared during the first mass today, January 22, 2017, Sunday, with the Santa Clara Mission Church in Longos, Malabon City.)

Today’s readings, including today’s Gospel, talks of Jesus as the light, and today He asks us to be lights for the world as well, through our life, the way we live and the way we relate with each other as one Christian community and family.

This year we all know that the Church in the Philippines are encouraging all of us to see the importance of being a community, as a communion of communities where the basic ecclesial communities (BEC) are made into agents or examples of what it means to be in communion, participation, and in taking part of the mission.

So how will we translate this in our daily life as members of this church? We are supposed to be a community. We are supposed to feel that we belong. We are supposed to feel incomplete whenever we cannot participate in any church activity, when we do not see and are not able to participate in any church activity. Have you ever experienced that feeling?

There is beauty in our Gospel today, well, as with any or all of the Gospel passage, after all it’s the good news. But today we would notice one particular characteristic that is so specific to Matthew which is that Matthew speaks of Jesus as the fulfillment of the words of the prophets.

If you notice in our first reading (Isaiah 8:23-9:3), we find the Prophet Isaiah talking about Zebulun and Naphtali. Before, these two regions of Israel were in darkness, but Isaiah said that they  will see light. There will be a reversal of fortune, just as its people would also see the light.

And in our gospel, what did Matthew show us, Jesus going to the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, fulfilling the prophets' prophecy, which he quotes, “the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen (v.16).

Matthew, my dear brothers and sisters, wrote for the Israelites, for the Jews who have been converted to Christianity. You see, from time to time they would experience doubt, and so they need reassurance that Jesus was indeed God’s chosen one, the Messiah whom God have promised His people. What better way to do this than to relate the activities of Jesus to the prophecies of the prophets whom the Israelites loved so much. 

When we go to our second scripture (1 Cor 1:10-13,17), Paul writes to a divided church in Corinth where he urges them, urges them, that is such a heavy word with so much urgency, he urges them to be united in Christ, that they would have the same mind and purpose.

In our church today, we see so much division. Our loyalties are divided among personalities (I am for this priest or for that priest, or this minister or leader, or that leader) or groups (our group is better than yours) or even the kind of devotion that we have (ever heard of the mothers who were arguing if the Fatima was more powerful than Lourdes?). 

But that should not be so. If we have seen the light, and who is the light? Jesus. If Jesus has infiltrated our lives, if his words are truly made manifest in our lives we would become agents of unity not division. Because we would know that we are in church because of Jesus. What’s his message? “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt 4:17).

These past days our country have seen a glimmer of light as our government leaders and that of the Communists have gathered in Rome to come up with a solution to our seemingly never ending civil war in the countrysides. The communists are proposing socio-economic reforms that would give us an experience of the shalom of Christ, the peace of God. They want our government to start taking responsibility of our poor, our farmers, our urban poor, the homeless, those in the margins and so much more those beyond the margins. Land for the farmers, home for the homeless, meaningful jobs for the jobless. And the government is trying to reconcile these proposals with their desire to protect big businessmen. How can they give meaningful jobs when many big greedy businessmen are pressing their own agenda? As much as government would want to submit to the pro-people demands of the communists, they also need to consider what the investors would say. That is why, we need leaders in government who have the political will to work in favor of the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, and not the big businessmen who have made it their past-time to trample on the little people. 

As a people who have seen the light it is our obligation to let go of what we are doing and to follow Christ, and following Christ entails being with the people, of spreading the good news of shalom, of the kingdom of God being at hand. What better way for us to proclaim God’s kingdom than to show our support in the peace process by ensuring that it would push through for what this brings is God’s shalom, where there is no more hunger, no homeless, and no one in need. When we don’t need to worry for our food, for our house and shelter, for the schooling of our children, for our health, because government now would be more responsive to our needs as they should be. That is if finally our country would have peace, if the leaders from both parties would seek unity rather than division.

Today, we also reflect on the Eucharist as a reminder of the kind of light that Jesus was. The Eucharist is the very epitome of communion, where we share in Christ’s sacrifice and partake of the grace that his sacrifice has gifted us with. 

And so my dear brothers and sisters, as we continue to celebrate the Eucharist this morning, let us think and reflect how much we have contributed to the unity of the church, it being a way for us to become a light to the world, and how much as a communion of communities, we have contributed to the realization of peace in the land.


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