HOMILY FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A.
THEME: THE SYMBOL OF LIGHT.
BY: Fr. Jude Nnadi.
Readings: Isaiah 8:23-9:3; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17; Matthew 4:12-23
“First the Lord delegated 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. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone” (Is 9).
“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 Zabulun and the 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. 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” (Mt 4).
Sisters and brothers, the text of Isaiah and that of Matthew today meet in a very splendid and obligatory way. For the great prophet of Israel on the horizon of Galilee, the northern region of Palestine, the dazzling light of the Messiah-King rises and pierces the darkness of unhappiness and misery. For Matthew, on the horizon of Galilee, the region also with a pagan presence, the figure of Christ appears who is the splendid surprise of God’s love. The symbol of light, classic in all religions and emblem of the divine, signals the initiative of God who breaks his isolation and addresses man, envelops him, and involves him in his light, in his life.
In that intense picture of the apocalypse: “Here, I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door for me, I will come to him and dine with him, and he with me” (3:20), there is a particular emphasis on God’s initiative. God is first interested in each and every one of us. Karl Barth, the greatest Protestant theologian of the 20th century, changed Descartes’ famous saying Cogito, ergo sum (“I think, therefore I am”) into a more Christian Cogitor, ergo sum, “I am thought (by God), therefore I exist”. We live and die in him, in the womb of his love.
This fundamental affirmation of the biblical faith is also “staged” in Matthew’s account of the calling of the first apostles. Indeed, Jesus reverses the model of the master-disciple relationship typical of the Jewish world. In it, in fact, it was the disciple who chose the rabbi-teacher, after listening to him while he spoke in the village square, at crossroads or in the synagogue. Jesus, on the other hand, initiates an antithetical method: he passes along the coast of Lake Tiberias (“Sea of Galilee”) and to those two fishermen brothers he launches that order: “Follow me!”. And they, faced with the sudden irruption of God into their personal history, let the net fall from their hand and embarked on an adventure much more mysterious than the one they lived on that often treacherous but also fish-rich lake. On the last evening of his earthly life, in the Upper Room, Jesus will remind them: “It was not you who chose me, but I chose you”.
In every human vocation there is at its root a grace, a love. Paul in the letter to the Romans quotes a daring text from Isaiah: “I was found – says the Lord – by those who did not seek me” (65:1). Man can be distracted, he can even flee like Jonah to the other side of the world where he deludes himself that God does not exist, he can perhaps plunge into the abyss of despair and into the darkness of sin. But “the darkness is not dark for you and the night is as clear as day” (Ps 139:12) and even there your right hand will hold me fast. The important decision is then to let yourself be conquered, not to run away for life, not to always close your eyes to all the signs, often strange and unexpected, that God lets flash before us. we must not be afraid to let God enter the doors of our house and our life.
Carì Gustav Jung, one of the fathers of psychoanalysis, had this Latin phrase carved on the door of his house in Kusnacht Switzerland: “Vocatus atque non vocatus Deus aderit”, “called or not called, God will always be present”. These words can also become a sign of hope for us. Even if we do not invoke him, perhaps even if we blaspheme and reject him, God does not turn away, he stays beside us, waiting to reveal himself and embrace us. “The father saw the prodigal son still far away and ran to meet him, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Lk 15:20).
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