THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
In the first reading, Isaiah speaks about a New Light that will shine on a land experiencing darkness and oppression. In the gospel, Jesus presents himself as the fulfillment of the Isaian prophecy. In the second reading, Paul addresses a church family experiencing division.
FIRST READING: Isaiah 8:23, 9:3
These words from Isaiah were written in a time when a weakened Israel was being overrun by its powerful neighbors. The territories held by the tribes of Zebulon and Naphtali were the first to fall. Isaiah seeks to offer words of hope and consolation to the people experiencing the darkness of oppression. “A new light will shine on a people living in a land of gloom.” Isaiah hoped his prophecy of a new light would be fulfilled in the next King of Israel. In today’s Gospel, Jesus sees himself as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Jesus is the New Light shining on a land and people in darkness.
SECOND READING: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
Paul is addressing a community experiencing much divisiveness, which is a form of darkness. Four groups are identified: those who feel allegiance to Paul, Apollos, Cephas and Christ. Paul slaps all of them on the wrists for being divisive. “Can Christ be divided?” Surely not. Christ is one; so must the various households of faith be one. Finally, Paul downgrades human wisdom when compared to the wisdom of the cross, which is the source of our salvation.
GOSPEL: Matthew 4:12-23
John’s imprisonment may have been Jesus’ signal to go public with his mission. Matthew presents Jesus as the fulfillment of the first reading. Jesus is a light for all to see and experience, including the Gentiles. To further emphasize this, Matthew locates Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, a region mainly occupied by Gentiles.
Then we have Jesus’ call to repentance, which is a call for a new mind and heart, a new hearing and a new radical response to God’s Word. The call of the first four apostles is a concrete example of four men hearing God’s call and responding to it with total commitment. Finally, Jesus says that the new role of his new disciples will be to “catch people.”
In the second reading, Paul addresses the issue of divisiveness in the Corinthian church. What are the causes of
divisiveness in local parishes and in our larger church family? How should we respond to gossip, negativity and divisiveness?