26 January, Sunday – Unconditional Acceptance

26 January 2020

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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 seen 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.

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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 Apollos’, ‘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.

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Matthew 4:12-23

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 and shadow of death
a light has dawned.’

From that moment Jesus began his 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.

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‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’

I once had a conversation with somebody regarding the role of laypeople in evangelisation and I discovered that the person came to know of the faith because of the encounter which she had with somebody who shared her faith in a gentle way over lunch. The readings of today remind me of this episode because it reminds me of the need for each one of us to evangelise and reach out to the people around us with patience.

Evangelisation is not going to public areas and shouting that Jesus loves you. That is one possible method but I do feel that there could be other ways in which the faith could reach out to the people. It is in the daily interaction we have with others – the kind word or sometimes the  unplanned meeting with somebody which allows us to discover that so much has happened in their lives. Evangelisation usually happens in our daily rhythm of life and we need to be ready for it. We can do so by preparing ourselves with scriptures and also by frequenting the Sacraments.

Sometimes we need to realise that the faith is a combination of us frequenting the Sacraments and interaction with others to share with them the joy we have discovered in our faith. Knowledge of Jesus does not stay in the church but goes outside of the Church. The joy of knowing the Gospel should be so overpowering that we want to go outside to the rest of the world and share with them this joy. As we begin another week, let us find an opportunity to share this faith with the next person we meet. I believe that God will guide the conversation and it may lead to a direction which we may never imagine.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the strength to share with others the faith which you have given us.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all catechists.

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