"Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
On this Monday after Epiphany, we join with the Church in contemplating Jesus starting his mission in Galilee. It's another 'epiphany,' or 'shining forth,' or 'manifestation' of Jesus as the light that shines in the darkness.
Here are a couple of rather random reflections to start with to aid our contemplation of Jesus on mission.
First, "Galilee of the Gentiles" situates Jesus among the heathens and unbelievers. Where does Jesus go first to begin his mission? To the heathens. He did not go to the desert, as John did. He did not go to Jerusalem, as the prophets of old did. He went among the heathens in Galilee.
Second, notice his first words, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." He speaks like a prophet! What do we expect of prophets? We expect them to, religiously, kick people's behinds, right? Let's see.
Next, notice that there are several verses skipped over. It's Matthew's version of the Call of the Disciples. So, what Jesus does first as a prophet is to call disciples. Hmmm. Rather odd behavior because all the prophets of old seemed to work as "Lone Rangers."
Anyway, the last part of the passage is one of those Matthean summaries of Jesus' mission. Is he kicking people's behinds? Hard to say, but whatever he was saying, the people responded to him by coming with their sick to be healed. Matthew sums this up nicely in the verbs he chooses for Jesus on mission: "he went around...teaching...proclaiming...and curing." Jesus' teaching is healing. His healing is instructive.
Finally, I'd like to sum this all up by looking at the prophecy from Isaiah that Jesus fulfills, especially on the line, "on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death..." At this writing, several days before Christmas 2002, I really don't know what life will be like on the Monday after Epiphany, 2003. There are more rumors of war today as President Bush is scheduled to speak about Iraq's non-compliance regarding the documents they submitted to the U.N.
Where is that land "overshadowed by death" today? Is it Iraq? Is it Israel? Is it Venezuela? Is it the U.S.? Is it Nigeria?
Let us implore God to send the light of Christ to shine on these
lands through the faces of the people of God. May the Church proclaim
repentance to the world and seek to heal its wounds, as once our Savior
did in Galilee.
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