Isaiah 8:23-9:3, 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17, Matthew 4:12-23
The Holy Roman Pontiff sets aside this Sunday for the enthronement of the Word of God. Our reflection today in connection with the readings of today will center on this. The Word of God has been totally neglected and sometimes seems to be disregarded by many. Many Christians today do not value the word of God, many find it hard even to read, reflect and live out the word. The pope emphasis on this celebration is to bring back our awareness about the nature and importance of the Word of God.
To understand fully the theology of the Word of God, we need to have a recourse on the beautiful prologue of the Gospel of John chapter 1. The first chapter of John’s gospel begins with the nature of the Word of God. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” is an indication that John was referring to the Word as God and a Person. In verse 14, John tells us that “the word became flesh and now dwelt among us”. A statement to affirm that Jesus is the Word made flesh. God now speaks to us through His son. This ascertain the personality and divine nature of the Word of God, through whom everything comes into being. This is a word not from any human being, not from the devil etc but the Word of God. The word “of” denotes possession and ownership. When we hear it, it is not the person speaking, the word we hear belongs to God.
The Word is a Light
The first reading of today from Isaiah 8:23-9:3 corroborates the second premise in the first chapter of John’s gospel. John said nothing came into being except through Him and what came into being was life, the life that was light of all men, the light that shines in the darkness in which no darkness can overcome (John 1:5), then in verse 9, John says that the Word was the real light, that gives light to everyone (John 1:9).
The prophecy of Isaiah in the first reading is historically set in the second half of the eighth century B.C. It was the era of the great Assyrian expansion in the Middle East. Even the tribes of Zebulon and Naphtali, situated in northern Israel, were involved in these military-political upheavals. Devastation, violence, deportation, the imposition of heavy taxes were the consequences of the invasion of armies coming from Mesopotamia. The dramatic situation is presented by Isaiah as a humiliation, permitted by the Lord.
In the region of Galilee, it was as if the chaos that reigned before the creation when “darkness covered the abyss” (Gen 1:2) had returned. The fertile lands beyond the Jordan seemed shrouded in the darkness of a night without end. Everywhere death reigned unchallenged. The depressed people had lost all hope.
At this time of general smashing, the voice of the prophet who announces the dawn of a new day resounds: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. On those who live in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (9:1). In the gospel When Jesus left Nazareth after hearing about the death of John the Baptist and went to live in Capernaum , in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, Mathew reechoed what happened in the first reading and then sees this movement of Jesus to Zebulun and Naphtali as the fulfilment of the prophecy by Isaiah . Only the word of God can enlighten the darkness in our world today. Just like the situation in the first reading, The Word of God is a light for those in distress, a light for the abandoned and depressed, and guide for those in the darkness of sin. The psalmist says in Psalms 119:105, “your word is lamp for my steps and a light for path. We need the word of God to find solace, guidance and hope in the midst of challenges. We need the word of God to ward off the darkness in our hearts.
We Need the Word
When Jesus sojourned to Zebulun, a land that was in total darkness, the first thing that Jesus began to do is to preach, then on the way, he began to call people to himself. Then He goes around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people. In the darkness of our hearts, in our sinful states, in the midst of our weaknesses, we need Jesus to sojourn in our hearts. We need Jesus to come into our lives. First of all, what he needs from us is change which comes through obedience to his word. He will then heal our wounds and weakness like He did in galilee.
We are also Heralds of the Good News
In the gospel Jesus was never tired of preaching the Word. He was also able to call people to himself through His words and actions. We also are heralds of the gospel. For In Mathew 16, Jesus tells His apostles to go to the whole world and proclaim the good news. This is the responsibility of every Christian. We are called to win souls for Jesus Christ just like Jesus was doing today and the only way we can do that is to value the word and consequently be the gospel we preach. In the second reading, Paul emphasized that he was called to preach the gospel. Paul made a lot of converts and won many souls for God. This is the mission for all. Let us not be ashamed of the gospel nor grew weary of the good news.
I invite all to allow the Word of God to dwell in us richly using the words of the Letter to the Colossians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. (Col 3:16) In responding to the Word of God, Mary is our model, “Let it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38).
Fr. Sanctus MArio