2017-01-22, 3rd A, Inauguration

Homily 01-22-17
3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A, Mass
Is 8:23-9:3; Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14; 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17; Mt 4:12-23

(Scriptures included after homily)

As we travel into our Third Week of Ordinary Time through this narrative story of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, and the prophesies of Isaiah, some seven and one-half centuries earlier, we begin with an inauguration.

But it’s not the inauguration of an American president. And its publicity is not even remotely similar.  Today we hear the relatively inconspicuous inauguration of the most important person the world has ever known.

You see, while Rome was struggling with rebellious insurrections in this little backwater land of Palestine, making examples of zealous rebels by crucifying them on the roadsides; and the religious leaders of Jerusalem were trying their best to pacify their Roman oppressors by enforcing ever-more strict rules on their own followers;

john-the-baptist-in-waterOff on the sidelines was a rugged bear of a man, telling them all to straighten up, to clean up their acts, and to get ready for an apocalyptic storm.  “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,” John would shout!

Which was all fine and good, until it was extended to Herod, himself.  And sadly, that was the end for John, too.  Yet, even though we may feel sorry for John the Baptist’s demise, he had perfectly fulfilled God’s mission by preparing the way for something, for some One who would change it all!

You see, John’s arrest was the spark that initiated the beginning of Jesus’ Mission, in Matthew’s version of The Story.  And it was this inauguration of Jesus’ ministry, that quietly occurred in the background, with all the other ruckus that was going on in the area.

But there was something we learned about Jesus today, that revealed His identity, so irrefutably that the message was hard to miss.  You see, everything that Jesus did and said was the fulfillment of prophesies that were made hundreds and thousands of years earlier.  And today we heard just one, simple example, in our First Reading.

old-new-israel

And OK, even though all of that talk about Zebulun and Naphtali, about Midian* and Capernaum (see maps), may have left us clueless, the point of it all, was that, it was TO these very same neighborhoods, that were routed by the Assyrians some 725-years earlier, because of Israel’s Loss of faith in God, that the Prophet Isaiah promised, there would be rejoicing, because of the Light, and the Freedom that would come to them.

And it was TO this exact same neighborhood, that Jesus first came: to live, and to preach, to heal, and to free the souls of those who were lost in the darkness of abandonment, and not to those world-hardened inhabitants in the City of Jerusalem!

THESE were the Gentiles of Galilee!

And God had returned,
just as He had promised!

And not unlike the apocalyptic storm that WE had just experienced, here in Columbia, Missouri last week (long predicted, but never happened), there was no thunder and there was no lightning, there were no impassible roads, nor broken trees, nor stranded motorists.

Jesus quietly strolled down the beach . . . and INVITED!

Come, and we will change the world.

Come, and take a flicker of My Light into your soul, so that it can shine upon others, who may still be lost in the darkness.

Come and let My Words permeate into your hearts and into your minds.

Come, and join me, along with all the others who believe, and we will form an apocalyptic storm of Light, and Love, and Unity, like the world has never known.

Repent and believe in Jesus, for
the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!

jmp 01-22-17

*   Today’s Scriptures made reference to Zebulun and Naphtali who were sons of Jacob (Israel) and the regions their tribes were assigned to after entering the “Promised Land” (see first map).  Reference was also made in the first reading to Midian.  Midian was a son of Abraham and his later-wife Keturah.  Many years later Moses married a Midianite woman named Zipporah and many years after that, after the Midianites began to enslave the Israelites, a judge named Gideon, with the backing of God, conquered the Midianites and freed the Israelites enslaved to them “. . . as on the day of Midian”.  (See Wikipedia reference, also Judges 6-8)

exodus-b

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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 01-22-17
Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, A

First Reading:  Is 8:23-9:3

First the Lord degraded the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the end he has glorified the seaward road, the land west of the Jordan, the District of the Gentiles.

Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness: for there is no gloom where but now there was distress.  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.

You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, as they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as people make merry when dividing spoils.  For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: To dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, that I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate his temple.

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation

Second Reading: 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17

I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.

For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you.  I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.”

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you?  Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.

Gospel: Mt 4:12-23

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled:

“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.”

From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.

He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.

He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.

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