Third Sunday in Ordinary
January 26, 2014
A Homily - Cycle A - 2013-2014
by Rev. Luke Dundon
First Reading - Isaiah 8:23-9:3
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14
Second Reading - 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
Gospel - Matthew 4:12-23
Matthew wrote to show that Christ
Messiah and fulfilled the Jewish prophecies.
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 Napthtali, 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 the 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."
This drives the office staff absolutely bonkers, but in case anyone was wondering, there’s only 11 months till Christmas! Get ready . . .
I think it’s amazing how our God absolutely LOVES a good irony. The Lord of the Universe, designer of Creation, source of all goodness and love, decides to begin his ministry in the most backwoods, unrefined, shady and seedy part of the Promised Land . . . the land known with disdain, Galilee. In a small seaside town, named Capernaum. And there he sets up his base of operations. And whom does He choose to begin His great work? Fishermen, who (by almost ALL accounts) are not the best fishermen . . . every single time we see them fishing in Scripture, they always seem to have trouble catching ANYTHING! Until Jesus comes around . . .
I think it’s pretty amazing HOW our Lord calls these men. Come after me, He says, and I will make you fishers of men. Notice he doesn’t say, “come after me, and I will make you the first apostles of the Church,” or “come after me, and I will make you the first pope, or some of the greatest saints, or the original Gospel writers, or some of the most famous PEOPLE IN WORLD HISTORY…” none of that. He simply takes what they are doing, however imperfect they are doing it, and He says, “Come after me . . . drop your nets . . . . I have BETTER nets for you to use, something much BETTER for you to catch . . . just come after me . . .” And so they did. . . Immediately.
Usually, when we think of following the Lord, we think of doing it in slow and steady steps. Discernment, as Pope Francis likes to call it. Listen carefully, then spend some time deciding what should be done. But when Jesus met these fishermen in THEIR own environment, they don’t seem to need any time deciding what to do next. Leave everything, follow Him. Jesus’ invitation is most powerful because He meets them on their own turf, He meets them in uniqueness of their own humdrum, ordinary lives.
Praise God, He hasn’t changed that strategy in 2000 years. If we want to find the Lord and see what He wants of us, then one of the best places to hear His voice, one of the best environments to meet the man from Nazareth, is to look for Him right in our own work, in our own homes. In fact, when we listen for Him there, who knows – maybe we’ll be as powerfully moved as the first apostles were in their fishing business!
But perhaps we might be tempted to think, “well, Peter and Andrew had a simple life, pure line of work, probably upstanding histories . . .” - perhaps they did. “But for ME, I mean, I’m not always so virtuous at work. I’m not always so charitable at home, in fact, I might be just the OPPOSITE there, so how would the Lord speak to me there?” He could, He can, He WILL, the same way He did with a slave master of the 18th century named John Newton. In the midst of his work as a slave trader, in the midst of his brutal treatment of the African people, in the midst of so much UNVIRTUOUS living, the Lord met Him. He spoke to Him – He helped him realize that he was selling his soul. And so he converted. Became an Anglican Priest. And wrote a hymn reflecting his beautiful turn-around, a hymn which was called, “Amazing Grace.” What a beautiful irony, how our God brings out light in the midst of darkness, how our amazing God meets us in our lives, no matter WHERE we are or WHAT we’re doing . . . I’m excited to hear about His encounter of you this week! Please Lord, just help us to have hears which are open to YOU. Amen.