Monday, January 4, 2010

Those Who Sit In Darkness Have Seen A Great Light.

Reading I 1 John 3:22–4:6

We receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit whom he gave us.

Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist who, as you heard, is to come, but in fact is already in the world. You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They belong to the world; accordingly, their teaching belongs to the world, and the world listens to them. We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.


Responsorial Psalm 2
I will give you all the nations for an inheritance.
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
this day I have begotten you.
Ask of me and I will give you
the nations for an inheritance
and the ends of the earth for your possession.”
I will give you all the nations for an inheritance.
And now, O kings, give heed;
take warning, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice before him;
with trembling rejoice.
I will give you all the nations for an inheritance.


Gospel Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled:

Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.

From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,“Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

He went around all of Galilee,teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,and curing every disease and illness among the people. His fame spread to all of Syria, and they brought to him all who were sick with various diseasesand racked with pain, those who were possessed, lunatics, and paralytics,and he cured them. And great crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan followed him.

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If we look at today’s readings in chronological order – first Matthew’s gospel, then John’s epistle, there is a sequence in the narrative. In the gospel, Jesus travels about in Galilee “proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.” The word spread, and people began coming to him from all over the region, Jews and pagans alike, even from the other bank of the Jordan. Not only did he cure the sick of every disease and illness, but he encouraged them all in simple terms to repent of their sins, and reform their lives, in order to live in God’s Kingdom. Then, in his epistle, John speaks to us of how we, in our own endeavor to re-form our lives, can be certain that we are “on the right track”, following the Way of Jesus.

Allow me to make that more specific to our own day, and to our individual situations. Each of us is moved by a single desire or yearning that goes deeper than any of the little things that we use and do to satisfy ourselves. If we try to imagine that all our wishes were granted – food, shelter, safety, health, strength, beauty, human love, etc. – we will find that there is still an empty place in our hearts, and that we need to seek a satisfaction beyond the things of this world. Augustine, in the opening words of his Confessions, says something like this: “Lord, you made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

To reach that place, we must set aside the things of this world, at least to the extent that they are our present priorities. To be sure, we need food, health, strength enough to live, and all the rest; but more basically, we need to re-form our lives in such a way that these things are secondary, and that knowing, loving and serving God is primary. This is the only way that we can truly be at rest, be satisfied, be fulfilled. This demands a separation from things, an end to our attachment, even dependence on things that will be seen as poverty in the eyes of this world. We also need a poverty of self, which puts our values and our will into the hands of the Father. This is the sure foundation for the most trustworthy way of being active in our lives.

How will we know that we are living this life in the best way possible? That will be when we truly believe that we are the beloved children of a loving Father; that we are brothers and sisters of the living Lord, who is our gentle Shepherd, and our Older Brother, our model for being human; and that the Holy Spirit that Jesus has sent to us is guiding us with wonderful warmth and care – so long as we so desire.

Let us pray to our Father in Heaven as children, and seek to do His loving will. Let us trust Him absolutely, casting aside our lives in the eyes of this world to receive them fresh and new, formed anew by the powerful and caring hands of a God who never ceases to call us to life, and to re-create us in His own image.

We are truly blessed!

Charles Kestermeier, S.J.
Creighton Online Ministries

1 comment:

Lavinia Tai said...

Happy New Year, Father.