27 Jan – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus, The Light Of The World
The Good News we have heard is like a beacon light which draws men irresistibly to Christ. We must not be content with lesser lights.
– the Sunday Missal
The Heir’s Portrait
A very wealthy man was heartbroken when his wife died leaving behind their young son. Fortunately, he could depend on a very affable housekeeper who took care of the child as her own. When the lad was barely twenty, however, he met with a tragic death. His father was so grief-stricken that his health began to dwindle, and he too died a few months later, in the loving arms of the housekeeper. He had, no doubt, made adequate provision for her.
The millionaire left no will, and since no living heir to his enormous estate could be trace, the whole property was taken over by the state. Eventually, an auction was arranged to dispose of the personal effects of the mansion.
The old housekeeper was present at the auction, not so much to bid for anything as to have a last glance at the things she had been familiar with for years. Among the several objects on display, there was one that attracted her attention; it was the photograph of the boy in his late teens. It was practically the only item that had no takers, so the woman paid the amount the auctioneer demanded and bought it for keepsakes.
When she dusted the frame at home, some papers fell out the back. They looked important, so she showed them to a lawyer-friend. The lawyer could not believe what he saw. He looked at the woman and said cheerfully: “You’ve hit the jackpot, dear. Your old master has left all his property and savings to the person who loved his son enough to buy the picture.”
– What thoughts, feelings, occurred to you while you went through the story?
– What do you think is the ‘moral’ of the story?
– taken from “Persons Are Gifts”, by Hedwig Lewis, SJ
Isaiah 8:23 – 9:3
In days past the Lord humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in days to come he will confer glory on the Way of the Sea on the far side of Jordan, province of the nations.
The people that walked in darkness
has been a great light,
on those who live in a land of deep shadow
a light has shone.
You have made their gladness greater,
you have made their joy increase;
they rejoice in your presence
as men rejoice at harvest time,
as men are happy when they are dividing the spoils.
For the yoke that was weighing on him,
the bar across his shoulders,
the rod of his oppressor,
these you break as on the day of Midian.
1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
I appeal to you, brothers, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, to make up the differences between you, and instead of disagreeing among yourselves, to be united again in your belief and practice. From what Chloe’s people have been telling me, my dear brothers, it is clear that there are serious differences among you. What I mean are all these slogans that you have, like: “I am for Paul”, “I am for Apollo”, “I am for Cephas”, “I am for Christ”. Has Christ been parcelled out? Was it Paul that was crucified for you? Were you baptised in the name of Paul?
For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the Good News, and not to preach that in the terms of philosophy in which the crucifixion of Christ cannot be expressed.
Hearing that John had been arrested Jesus went back to Galilee, and leaving Nazareth he went and settled in Capernaum, a lakeside town on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled:
Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali!
Way of the sea on the far side of Jordan,
Galilee of the nations!
The people that lived in darkness
has seen a great light;
on those who dwell in the land of shadow of death
a light has dawned.
From that moment Jesus began preaching with the message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.”
As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast in the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” And they left their nets at once and followed him.
Going on from there he saw another pair of brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they were in their boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. At once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.
He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness among the people.
Many of us have heard the terms “Liberation Theology” and “Prosperity Gospel” before. Do we know what these terms mean, and why some parts of them are not compatible with the Good News?
Liberation Theology essentially focuses on Jesus as a political saviour, as someone who saves an oppressed people from their oppressor. The good of the people is valued above the good of the individual person, and personal sin becomes neglected. In other words, “It doesn’t matter whether I am a sinful person, so long as I am doing working to free my people from the oppressor.” Perhaps what is most important in the context of today’s reflection, is that Jesus is not seen in his full light, but only as someone who frees a people from their oppressors.
Prosperity Gospel teaches that prosperity, particularly financial prosperity and success in business or person life is external providence of God’s favour. Consequently, the richer you are, the more blessed by God you are. I am not entirely familiar with it, but from what I understand, it reduces Christianity to a form of materialism.
These two forms of Christian doctrine are what would be described by the introduction of today’s theme as “lesser lights”. While there is some truth in these two doctrines, there is also much that is mistaken, primarily that of focusing Christianity into one or two points, and missing out the rest. In today’s context, we are very much surrounded by these lesser lights. From everywhere around us, we are being bombarded by lesser lights that tries to get us to focus on one or two particular aspects of Christianity while the rest of the message is hidden in darkness.
As Christians, it is our duty to learn as much as we can about all aspects of our faith. We cannot, for example, focus on only one aspect of our faith, say liturgy, and forget about everything else. Nor can we focus on, say, sexuality, and neglect everything else about our faith. This is the trap that many of us, including myself, tend to fall into. And this is what brings about conflict in the Church. This is something that is not new to the history of the Church as we see from the second reading. Conflicts within the Church arise because people are too focused on the area that they specialize in, and they neglect to see the bigger picture.
This invitation in today’s reflection is therefore an invitation to see the big picture. Just as Jesus invited his first disciples to follow him, the light, we too are invited to drop whatever we are familiar with, and follow the light of Christ into the world and see the big picture of God’s plan for humanity. Here’s a secret that the Lord has revealed to us already: The big picture of God’s plan for humanity is Jesus. As for what this secret means, well, we have to step out of our comfort zone and follow Jesus to find out.
This week, let us make the effort to try our hand at something in our faith that we are not familiar with, even if we might look stupid or feel uncomfortable, for it is only when we are out of our comfort zone that we can grow and develop into better persons.
Dear Lord, we ask you to show us the bigger picture of your plan as we offer this week to you, and do our best to explore unfamiliar territory. Amen.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: Opportunities to grow.
Mon, 28 Jan – 2 Samuel 5:1-7, 10; Mark 3:22-30; Memorial for St. Thomas Aquinas, priest, religious, doctor
Tue, 29 Jan – 2 Samuel 6:12b-15, 17-19; Mark 3:31-35
Wed, 30 Jan – 2 Samuel 7:4-17; Mark 4:1-20
Thu, 31 Jan – 2 Samuel 7:18-19, 24-29; Mark 4:21-25; Memorial for St. John Bosco, priest, religious founder
Fri, 01 Feb – 2 Samuel 11:1-4a, 5-10a, 13-17; Mark 4:26-34
Sat, 02 Feb – Malachi 3:1-4; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40; Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
Sun, 03 Feb – Zephaniah 2:3, 3:12-13; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 5:1-12a; Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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