Miel is a licensed teacher, a "Jane-of-all-trades" master of none, with a passion for writing.
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 diseases and 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.
The Gospel reading today moves to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. The Church carries on to celebrate the mysteries of Christmas, that is the coming of Jesus even when most of the world has taken the first step into the ordinary time.
The reading starts with Jesus hearing the news about the arrest of his cousin John the Baptist. The news compelled Jesus to begin his ministry.
John the Baptist’s preaching, “Repent, because the Kingdom of God is at hand!” (Mt. 3:2), was the reason Herod imprisoned him. So, when Jesus heard of the news about John the Baptist, He went back to Galilee with the same preaching, “Repent, because the kingdom of God is at hand!” (Mt. 4:17).
The preaching of the Good News contains risks, but Jesus wasn’t frightened. The Gospel of Matthew quoted Isaiah, “The people who lived in darkness have seen a great light!” Like Jesus, the people who believe in Him have also named “the light of nations!”.
Matthew encourages the believers and followers of Christ who were also into the similar threats of persecution during the time he wrote this Gospel. The objective of the Gospel of Matthew is to encourage the minor and unstable community of converted Jews during the second half of the first century.
These Jews lived in the region of Galilee and Syria went through threats and persecution because they believed and accepted Jesus as the Messiah. More so, because they received pagans in their community as well. The Gospel of Matthew asserts that Jesus is the Messiah and that salvation is not only for the Jews but for all humanity to strengthen the community’s faith.
In the Gospel, Jesus didn’t stop waiting for the people to arrive. He went to the people; He participated in the synagogues and in the meetings to announce His Good News. Jesus’ ministry to the sick, the possessed, the deranged, and paralytics expose to the people the presence of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God was indeed at hand.
The story of Jesus spread all over the region going outside the border of Galilee, passed through Judah, extended to Jerusalem, and even went beyond the Jordan and extended to Syria and Decapolis. Matthew was also writing His Gospel to their communities to announce that despite the risks, there’s already light that shines in the darkness.
How often do we place ourselves at risk of being outcasted in the office, in the classroom, in the neighbourhood, in our family, because we remind them of God’s Words? The risks include putting a good relationship at risk as well, such as a family member who is stubborn to let go of a vice or a friend who doesn’t attend the Holy Eucharist anymore. When we always strike a chord, most of the times, they are taken ill against us, and we become the enemies.
How do we deal with these situations, when, as a follower of Christ, we have to spread His Good News? It’s always never an easy task, especially if it involves people we love.
How do we remind them that we all need to repent? What does repent mean to us? More so, like Christ, how do we become a light to others, especially to the ones we love most.