Scripture: Lectionary 68. 3rd Sun. Ord. Time. Isaiah 8:23-9:3. Psalm
27:1.4.13-14. I Cor.1:10-13.17. Matthew 4:12-23
Matthew is the Gospel for the year 2011. It will be featured from now on
with the exception of the special liturgical seasons of Lent and Advent and
Dominical feasts of Our Lord and Blessed Mother whenever they fall on a
Sunday. We look then to the careful and orderly presentation of St.
Matthew’s Gospel as well as the emphasis on Jesus as a Teacher and New
Moses. We will see how closely Matthew is related to the Old Testament and
how his is the most Hebraic in presentation. He has fourteen principal
texts of the Hebrew Scriptures in his Gospel; we remember from the
genealogy that fourteen is the symbolic number for King David and that
Matthew’s liking for the number five is symbolic of the Torah’s five books.
In addition many of our ethical principles and our virtues as Christians
stem from this Gospel. These themes and ideas will help motivate us and
inspire us in our Sunday liturgical experience of the readings.
In our selection for this Sunday, we realize once again that John the
Baptist’s role has come to an end. He is in prison. Jesus now takes up and
goes further in his demands of the disciples and his followers at large.
The Holy Spirit is at work and the baptism they now undergo is a work
emanating from Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
As in Mark, Jesus’ proclamation is about change or renewal. The retreat
movements of students and parishes often stresses this dimension through
the word METANOIA which is the word Jesus uses for our reforming of our
life in the perspective of becoming disciples of Jesus and participators in
bringing about the kingdom. This is the beginning of the Good News of
Jesus: “From that time on Jesus began to proclaim this theme: “Reform your
lives! The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17). We are able to
recall how each Gospel has a very important beginning. While pondering over
the text on Metanoia, we remember Matthew starts his Gospel with “A family
record of Jesus Christ, Son of David, son of Abraham.” (Matthew 1:1).
Our first reading is always a great help to discover what is found in the
Gospel passage. Matthew actually cites our passage from Isaiah and applies
it to Jesus who is the light for all nations and peoples. Matthew will
stress the universal message of salvation at the end of his Gospel but he
already he has prefigured it through the mention of David and Abraham.
Isaiah is one of the Jewish prophets who stresses universalism and God is
presented as concerned about the nations as well as God’s chosen elect
Israel. All peoples come under God’s light and Jesus is that light as we
learn from John as well as from the Synoptic Gospels.
Our own response to the Gospel is the willingness to reform our lives by
believing in the Gospel. Our change of habits and our getting rid of our
sins is an ongoing process in this daily growth and change in ourselves.
This will be the theme of our whole life and of our being one with Christ
Jesus. Father Roland Faley gives us some practical advice about this
metanoia or change: “Our life in Christ needs regular assessment, periods
of reflection and prayer, retreats and days of recollection not in the
interest of measuring growth but simply to be certain we have not settled
on a plateau.” (R.Faley, T.O.R, Footprints on the Mountain, p. 112). Amen.