JANUARY 26, 2020 THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Lec. 67)
1) Isaiah 8:23–9:3
2) 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
3) Matthew 4:12-23 or 4:12-17 Gospel related: CCC 878, 1720, 1989
FOCUS:We are freed from our burdens by Jesus Christ, the light who came into our darkness.
Zebulun and Naphtali were sons of Jacob, and the leaders of two of the 12 tribes of Israel. The lands settled by their descendants were in the most northern part of Israel. Of all the Israelites, they were the furthest from the summer sun, giving rise to Isaiah’s description of the people there who walked in darkness and in the land of gloom.
Their darkness wasn’t just a matter of geography, however. These were also the first lands to be invaded by the Assyrians, and the Israelites were oppressed by their pagan conquerors who practiced false worship of many gods. Isaiah prophesies of a time when a great light will shine upon these people, freeing them from darkness and bringing them abundant joy and great rejoicing. He prophesies what we know to be the coming of the Christ, who will free them from the yokes that burden them.
Matthew shows us the fulfillment of this prophecy in today’s Gospel. Jesus goes to Capernaum, which is the same geographical region of which Isaiah spoke. He has come to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy, to be the great light for those who walked in darkness, and so he begins preaching the Good News: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. This message will appeal to many whom Jesus calls, such as Simon and Andrew, and James and John who follow him. Others will hate him for it – and crucify him.
The freedom found in Christ is what impels Saint Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians. He is concerned about a growing lack of unity among them, in mind and purpose. So he reminds them of the cross of Christ – the one true sacrifice made for all, into which they are baptized – that it might not be emptied of its meaning. For it is not specific people or human words that give them life. It is Christ crucified who freed them from all burdens.
To be sure, there are people who still walk in darkness, and there remains division in the Church and among Christians. Yet we are freed from our burdens by Jesus Christ, the light who came into our darkness. With the gift of faith we can cast aside the nets of doubt, and through graces outpoured we can resolve to follow Christ, our light and our salvation.