1 Corinthians 1:10-13.17
Dear friends, today is the third Sunday in ordinary time year A. On this Sunday, we are celebrating “The Word of God”. The Sunday of the Word of God was instituted by Pope Francis in September 30, 2019, in his Apostolic Letter Aperuit illis and is to be held every year on the third Sunday of Ordinary Time. It reminds us, pastors and faithful alike, of the importance and value of Sacred Scripture for the Christian life, as well as the relationship between the word of God and the liturgy: “As Christians, we are one people, making our pilgrim way through history, sustained by the Lord, present in our midst, who speaks to us and nourishes us. A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event but rather a year-long event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the Risen Lord, who continues to speak his word and to break bread in the community of believers. For this reason, we need to develop a closer relationship with Sacred Scripture; otherwise, our hearts will remain cold and our eyes shut, inflicted as we are by so many forms of blindness”.
The Word of God proposes to our meditation today is inviting us to reflect on the theme: “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand”. The Israelites in their journey with God knew that God will establish definitely his kingdom at the right time. For them, they were thinking of the restoration of the Davidic kingdom. However, the kingdom of God was extended to all nations both the people of God and to the gentiles alike.
Thus in the first reading taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah, we hear how God promises to save his people. There was a time when the Israelites experienced darkness in other words they have been invaded by external powers (the Assyrians, Babylonians, and the Romans later on) but the experience they had with the Assyrians was still fresh in their mind. They were ashamed most especially the two tribes (Zebulun and Naphtali). In their anguish, the Prophet reminded them of the promise of the Lord by saying that “The people who walked in the darkness have seen a great light” meaning that, the hour has come when the Almighty God will save his people. The people who were suffering before now began to experience God’s love through the light of the Lord and to add to that they were told that they will be multiplied as a nation, their joy will be increased and they will be totally free from their oppressors.
Brethren, the kingdom of God begins by manifesting itself through the liberation of those who are experiencing a hard time and any other form of slavery. Just as God has changed the situation of his people in the Old Testament, he will also change our situations, all that we need to do is to put our hope and trust in him. That is why we have sung with palmists by saying “the Lord is my light and my salvation”. The psalmist puts his trust in the Lord at all times and knows that God will never abandon him no matter how will be the situation.
In the Gospel reading, we are told that “when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee”. The gospel of John said more about the personality of John the Baptist; when the Jewish leaders sent messengers to him to find out if he was the Messiah he simply said “I am the voice of the one crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord” [John 1:23] meaning that John the Baptist started his mission before Jesus. The fact that Jesus left the area where John the Baptist has been arrested does not mean that Jesus was afraid on the contrary is to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah which Matthew states clearly in the gospel of today. Indeed, Jesus went to the region of Galilee more specifically in Capernaum where he accomplished great things: first of all, the presence of Jesus in those areas is considered a total transformation for the people in that region have experienced the light, Jesus, that light who shines and removes away all kind of darkness. To add to this, he began preaching and the core of his teaching was “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. Jesus has brought the Good News to the people of Capernaum. In order to mark his stay, Jesus decided to choose the first four of his companions (Simon and his brother Andrew and the two sons of Zebedee James and John). By the fact that Jesus has called these four fishermen, it means that the kingdom of God accommodates everybody.
Dear friends, today Jesus has come to each one of us to know our experiences, to experience himself our joys and pains. Let us warmly welcome him just as the people of Capernaum did. He also wants to associate us with the kingdom of God by being the agents. Today, we are called upon the spread the Good News about the kingdom of God to others through our way of living, and through active participation in our various parishes and other places of worship.
At times those of us who are involved in the mission of God, experience some challenges, and one of these challenges saint Paul in the second reading talked about is the division of the faithful living together in one community. The Christians of Corinth started disagreeing among themselves but the apostle heard about it, and he advised them to be united for Christ is unity. In our various communities and parishes, we might have the same issue but let us not divide on the contrary let us solve issues that arise as people of one family.
May these readings of today help to reach the stage of unity as we proclaim the kingdom of God to the entire world, amen.
Fr. Issere Agre