Reflection: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Tuesday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church

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[1st Reading – Is.8:23-9:3; Ps.26; 2nd Reading – 1Cor.1:10-13,17; Gospel – Mt.4:12-23]

“THE KINGDOM IS CLOSE AT HAND”

In today’s gospel, what we are told “from that moment Jesus began his preaching with the message, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand’” is the same message that John the

Baptist preached when he was baptising. John is reaching the end of his purpose in the history of salvation: he has been arrested, in prison, can no longer preach and his end/death is near. Jesus is now in the scene. It is Jesus’ turn to preach and he uses the same words as preached by John the Baptist, an invitation very similar to what the Old Testament Prophets used. However, while past Prophets preached that the kingdom of God ‘will come’ – i.e. an event in the future – John the Baptist and Jesus, preached that the kingdom of heaven is now ‘close at hand’ – i.e. the event is already happening in the present… already, but not yet!!!

This is the moment where Jesus enters into public life, according to Matthew, the gospel writer. Matthew does not hesitate to introduce Jesus as the itinerant who went from Nazareth to Galilee, settling in Capernaum, Zabulun and Naphtali. This small introduction by Matthew tells us that Jesus had already been foretold by the Old Testament Prophets. The gospel writer tells us that the Prophet Isaiah wrote “…the people that lived in darkness has seen a great light; on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death a light has dawned”. Thus Matthew is presenting Jesus as this ‘great light’. The gospel writer no longer speaks about John the Baptist because John is in now prison and has served his purpose in the life of Jesus. On the other hand it is now Jesus who is travelling through these different places and starting his public life. Matthew is therefore speaking of Jesus as the ‘light that has dawned’.

Yet, it seems that for Jesus it was not enough to be this “great light that has dawned”. Jesus wanted to share this light with others. Jesus did not want them only to see the light but also to become this ‘light’ themselves. Jesus ‘called’ some others to follow him more nearly and called them in twos so they can give evidence when the time comes. These were not perfect people, but weak fishermen … and yet Jesus was prepared to help them overcome their weakness to become like Jesus as ‘the light of the world’. The first thing that they had to do was to follow him and to listen more closely to his word, to listen to Jesus’ proclamation of the Good News of the Kingdom and also, they were to bear witness Jesus’ healing power. This is the evidence they would have to give of Jesus and to truly become ‘light of the world’ like Jesus.

As followers of Jesus, we are also asked to become ‘light of the world’ like the Apostles. Are we ready to listen to his word and give evidence of what we experience in our relationship with him?

“Lord, your invitation to repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand is a continuous renewal of your love for us. We know that you are near and we know that we should repent. Give us the courage to listen to you, do what you say and give evidence of your presence with us. Thank you Lord!”

 

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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