Great Light
  • Sunday, January 26, 2014

3 Epiphany, January 26

Isa. 9:1-4Ps. 27:1, 5-131 Cor. 1:10-18Matt. 4:12-23

Living in the “latter times,” we are called to know that “he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations” (Isa. 9:1). Whereas there had been gloom and deep darkness, light erupts over the nations, joy comes, and with joy, rejoicing. We see that the oppressor’s rod is broken. The prophet’s words are embodied by the Word, Jesus Christ. Hearing that John was arrested, Jesus moves from Nazareth to Galilee to set up his gospel shop and enroll his first novices. Jesus finds a “people who sat in darkness.” Being with them, walking “on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, “he is the true light which enlightens everyone” (John 1:9). Indeed, he is “the great light,” the blazing radiance of the Father that illumines even “the region and shadow of death” (Matt. 4:16).

“From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near’” (Matt. 4:17). The most obvious evidence of the kingdom’s nearness is the commanding presence of Jesus. He gives orders and with his very command conveys the grace to respond. He says “Repent!” and the world stops turning. He says “Follow me” and former things fall to dust and ashes. He creates in his person a new kingdom in which good news is the news of every morning and every evening. It is the news of the healing of disease and the end of sickness.

Calling to the nations and to individuals, Jesus makes a new humanity by the inner working of his own presence, a presence perceptible and real. This is why Simon and Andrew, James and John, and everyone who hears this summons responds immediately. It is not a question of weighing options. It is not intellectual assent, nor is it the strong sway of emotion. Rather, the call is itself the action of God. Insofar as we know ourselves in the presence of Christ’s call, we know only that we are grasped. As Christ is “acting in man, changing his nature, entering into a more and more intimate union with him, the divine energies become increasingly perceptible, revealing to man the face of the living God” (Vladimir Lossky, In the Image and Likeness of God; see his outstanding essay on the theology of St. Gregory Palamas). Discipleship is the work of God’s grace, and God’s grace is nothing less than God.

The new humanity, though utterly new because Christ is ever new and ever faithful, labors under a not-yet reality. Subject still to mortality and moral failure, the gift of our union in Christ may be squandered through jealousy and distrust. We may speak of “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all” and then behave as if some belong to Paul and some to Cephas and some to Apollos. What have we done with the gift? “The nations, hearing the word of God from our mouths, admire the good and wonderful things we say, and then they see that our works are not worthy of our words” (Liturgia Horarum, IV, p. 432; Liturgy of the Hours, IV, p. 520). “[S]o they turn to blasphemy and say that our words are nothing more than another fable and error.” Thus, again and again, we have to mend our nets, repair the tools appointed for people-fishing. First of all, we have to do some internal work, reminding the community of the baptized that we have all been baptized into Christ. Christ is our life and center. If we are in him, we are irrevocably one.

Look It Up
Read Ps. 27:10. Because we are not united in the same mind and the same purpose.

Think About It
One holy catholic and apostolic Church: Christ’s body.

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