Saturday 25 January 2014

Sunday, January 26, 2014 - THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - How will you as a disciple proclaim the Kingdom of God today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 9:1-4; 1 Cor 1:10-13,17; Mt 4:12-23

The Gospel text of today may be seen to be divided into three parts. The first is the fifth fulfilment quotation from Isaiah which explicates that what Isaiah predicted is being fulfilled in Jesus . This part also includes the first public proclamation of Jesus in Galilee. The second part is the call of the first four disciples and the third part is the summary statement at the end of today's  Gospel  text.

The prophecy of Isaiah which is the first reading of today is in the  context is the reversal which will occur in the latter days, when the spiritual darkness of Galilee will be dispelled by the dawn of the new age when the ideal king appears. This prophecy which was not fulfilled in any king in the Old testament is fulfilled in the most perfect way in Jesus. The Gentile lands have indeed seen the light. On them light has dawned with the coming of the light who is Jesus. The proclamation of Jesus that follows this quotation from Isaiah makes abundantly clear that Jesus is indeed the Messiah from God. His proclamation is God's good news to the world. The proclamation consists of an imperative which follows the indicative. The indicative is that the Kingdom has indeed come and is present. This is why people must repent. Thus repentance is a consequence not a condition for the kingdom. The kingdom is given as a gift, it must be accepted with gratitude shown in a new mind and new heart.

The disciples whom Jesus calls show this repentance in a very tangible way. They respond to the call of Jesus with alacrity and promptness. They leave their former ways behind as is signified by their leaving their boats and nets behind and go after Jesus. it is he who will make them fishers of people. In the second reading of today, Paul reminds the Christians at Corinth of the origin of their faith and their call. This origin is not Paul, Cephas or Apollos but Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who inaugurates the kingdom and proclaims it. It is Jesus who brings the kingdom for all and gratuitously and it is Jesus who is the kingdom and more. Fidelity and commitment are always only to Jesus.

The final verse of the Gospel text elucidates what the kingdom means. Jesus goes about everywhere preaching, teaching and healing. While preaching may be translated as proclamation which is a short, pithy statement, teaching may be interpreted as the elucidation of preaching. Healing is not separate from preaching and teaching, but forms a part with them. Clearly the kingdom is not merely verbal proclamation or a spiritual enterprise, but concrete, tangible and real. There is no separation between word and deed, between the verbal and the physical. The kingdom includes and encapsulates both.

The proper response to the arrival of the kingdom is receiving it with all humility and simplicity and openness and receptivity. A change of mind, heart and vision is what is required to receive the kingdom as a free gift from God. Since the kingdom that Jesus brings is one that has never been experienced before, a narrow mind with a stereotypical way of looking at God and the world will not be able to comprehend it, thus the new mind.

Many of us still think that it is our good deeds which are responsible for our salvation and that if we continue to do good and be good, we will have earned eternal life. This is a warped way of understanding God, Jesus and his message. Salvation can never be earned or bought by our goodness. Rather, our goodness is a consequence of our salvation.

Like the disciples who responded to the call of Jesus with confidence and courage and like the Christian community at Corinth who were invited to focus entirely on Jesus, we too are invited to hear the call to repentance and discipleship and respond with love. We are also called to proclaim the kingdom that Jesus inaugurated and to remember that it is a kingdom that involves word and action, saying and doing.

Will we dare to proclaim such a kingdom today?

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