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The Light of Christ

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A (22/01/2023)

(Isaiah 9: 1-4; Psalm 27: 1, 4, 13-14; 1 Corinthians 1: 10-13, 17; Matthew 4: 12-23)

By Fr Samuel Odeh

The light of Christ shines for all.  The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  Our first reading from the Book of the prophet Isaiah begins by describing the people of the city of Galilee as people who were in former times held in contempt.  This Galilee represented all those nations and peoples who were not among the chosen people of Israel.  They were the pagan nations.  They were a people who were looked down upon and regarded as good for nothing, with little or no respect.  In “the latter time” however, the prophet goes on to tell us, God will change this.  “Galilee of the nations” shall be made glorious.  God’s deliverance of this people is described using the image of light.  “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined”.  Anyone who has not heard the Good News is experiencing the darkness of being cut off from a close relationship with God.  Some of us listening to this reading may have experienced the darkness of being without guidance or direction at some point in our lives.  This reading from Isaiah is good news to all of us; it is God’s promise of deliverance for all who welcome him.  God’s promise is that he will multiply us and increase our joy as he did in Galilee if we accept him.  He has also promised to deliver us from oppression.

Our Gospel reading today begins with Jesus withdrawing from mainly Jewish circles and going into Galilee because he heard John the Baptist had been arrested.  Jesus’ entry into Galilee is seen as a fulfilment of the prophecy in our first reading from the Book of Isaiah.  Jesus began his public ministry in Galilee, among a people who were not regarded as God’s people.  Jesus brought the Good News to them.  “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying,  “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.  It was also in Galilee that Jesus called his first disciples.  The brothers, Simon, who is also called Peter, and Andrew and the other two brothers James and John, the sons of Zebedee, immediately left their work as fishermen and also left their families and followed Jesus.  They dropped everything and followed Jesus.  What sort of person was Jesus?  Why did he have such an impact on their lives?  What was it about Jesus that made them respond to his invitation with such urgency?  Why did they answer the call of Christ to follow him without hesitation?  Jesus and his message and the miracles that he worked is the light of God for all people.  It is important for us to ask ourselves if we find Jesus attractive as those first disciples.  Are the teachings of Jesus the light that guides our lives?  Jesus brought the Good News to the people.  He cured people of their illnesses.  He brought deliverance.  All of us in the Church are invited to follow Jesus Christ like those first disciples.  We are called to continue the work of Christ.  Christ continues his work through us and in us.  We are to be the light of Christ to others.

In our second reading today the Apostle Paul reminds the Christian community in Corinth that they can belong only to Christ and not to any leader in their midst no matter how well-spoken those leaders may be.  Those who preach Christ cannot replace him or take his place in our lives.  Christians today need to listen to preachers carefully.  Do we belong to Christ or do we claim to belong to some man or woman of God?  We can only belong to Christ.  Christ whom they preach is only the light from God.  He is our light, he is our salvation.  He laid down his life for others.  Let us be willing to follow in his footsteps.

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