Daily Reflection
January 23rd, 2005
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
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We can not admire, buy into, follow or eventually love some thing or some one unless we grow to know that thing or person. We are invited to get close to, familiar with and learn about the person of Jesus beginning with His call to His first intimate friends.

We pray in preparation for the liturgy by reflecting on God’s constant communicating with us. God uses everything and everyone around us to give us intimations of who we are and Who God is. God is walking constantly along our shores of awareness to attract us to the Holy Path of peace and justice. We are the people who have been in the dark and God sends the Light to help us make sense of our lives and our selves. We pray for the grace to be more attentive to Jesus’ invitations.


In today’s First Reading, Isaiah specifies a particular piece of territory which had been “degraded” or exiled. They have been in darkness and distress. What we hear is one of those Divine turn-abouts. This land of Zebulun and Naphtali way beyond the usual territories of Israel  too will now be graced by the God of Israel.

The “land of the Gentiles” is now to rejoice also for God is to shine upon them and bring them freedom. The Light of God’s love is beginning to spread throughout the whole of God’s creation.

The Gospel is Matthew’s picturing Jesus as the “Great Light” about Whom Isaiah had foretold. Matthew then presents a picture of the Teacher beginning to select His students. The word “disciple” means “One who is learning.” Jesus is on the earth and His first learners are doing their old things, preparing to catch fish. When they hear His call to come after Him, they leave everything old to follow this New teacher. Their eager response will be diminished by and by, because the New will become too much, too unusual, too deep a call to change or repent. 

Here at our university we welcome “older” or “advanced” students into all levels of course work. My own brother received his Doctorate last May in Philosophy at the advanced age of sixty-two. I asked him why he was studying all those years while continuing his lawyering. He responded that he hadn’t had an original thought in twenty years and he needed something to stay alive. Not easy to teach an old lawyer new tricks. It is all about staying alive.

We who are older find it a bit more difficult to stand up and get out of a fishing boat after our being out on the lake for a few hours. Knees and backs announce their discomfort at this new arrangement. Age means we have been learning for a long time and growing comfortable with our positions. We really do not enjoy those things which rearrange our categories or activities.

Repenting is a rearranging of kingdoms. Jesus comes along the shore between earth, (order) and the sea, (chaos). He meets four men of the sea and invites them to follow Him on the earth and in their earthliness. We can only imagine that these four have no idea how their personal furniture is going to be reconfigured. We will be watching their being schooled as we turn the pages of their textbook according to Matthew during the “Ordinary Times” of this Liturgical Year. They and we will get our first instructions in next-week’s Gospel. Enough for today is the call to each of us that we be available to our being changed by our learning about this Jesus.

To learn about Him we have to first be aware of our present positions. What are the dimensions of our boats? We could be hoping that Jesus merely confirms us in our present ways. That would be good, we think, but Jesus wants His Kingdom to come and the dimensions of that realm are larger than the sides of our boats. He has “original” ideas which will graduate us out and up. In reading or listening to His call, His teachings, if we feel comfortable and affirmed with all our present thoughts and ways, then please send me your Gospel, because the one I read tightens my shoes, stretches my back, aches my knees and yet enlivens my mind to learn and my heart to live more lovingly. With Jesus, there is a difference between being comforted and being comfortable. He doesn’t seem to want us to stay in our boats, but walk the earth with Him and His sisters and brothers and that is how we come to life and stay alive.

“Look up at the Lord with gladness and smile; your face will never be ashamed.” Ps. 34
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