Sunday 22 January 2023 – 3RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – Repent

1st Reading: Is 8:23—9:3

First the Lord degraded the land of Zebulunand the land of Naphtali; but in the end he has glorified the seaward road, the land west of the Jordan, the District of the Gentiles. Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness: for there is no gloom where but now there was distress. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, as they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as people make merry when dividing spoils. For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.

2nd Reading: 1Cor 1:10-13, 17

I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.

Gospel: Mt 4:12-23   

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.” As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him. 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.

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand: Two messages are given to us today. The first is the call to repentance. Sin destroys our relationship with God. That was first seen at the Garden of Eden where our first parents were sent away from the Garden of the love of God. Sin also destroys the relationship we have with our neighbours in our families, at our places of work, in schools and wherever we are. Sin also destroys our inner selves. We begin to lie, to lack confidence, to feel guilty, to be lonely and at times depressed. To avoid all these, Jesus is telling us repent. Turn away from the evil deeds and follow me. Lower the yoke of sin, the yoke of unforgiveness that is so heavy. Instead, take up the yoke of Jesus. It is light. This is a yoke of fogiveness, of love and care, of peace and tranquility, of serenity as we live in the abode of God’s Kingdom. In it, we shall be certainly fulfilled.

The second message in today’s Gospel is in the words, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” In this second message we encounter an invitation from Jesus. Jesus did not only tell the first disciples but is telling each one of us today, “Come!” What is my response to this request? The purpose for the invitation is clear, “I will make you fishers of men.” In reference to the early disciples who were fishermen, the purpose for the call was so that they continue doing what they were best at; fishing. But this time the prey would be different. It would no more be the fish but rather people. Jesus is interested in people. His mission is to rescue people. He does not desire people to be fished so that they can end up making stew and food. He desires that people are fished from the evil one, so that they may inherit God’s Kingdom. Such is the purpose for the invitation. It is a purpose of love. God is inviting you and I today to come and do what we are best at, but not for the purpose fo self-gratification, but for the purpose of God and of our neighbour. 

Prayer: Open my ears Lord that I may hear your call. Amen.

**** CALLED BY THE LORD: In the police service, a junior officer is meant to show total obedience to the seniors. This junior officer, does so by ensuring that whatever orders come from the seniors, are carried out without question.  Like the junior officers, the first disciples, promptly responded to the call from Jesus their Master. But even more, they left all and followed him. Without looking back, these first disciples stayed with Jesus, travelled with Jesus, listened to his instructions, and witnessed his mighty deeds. They gave their time to Jesus ensuring that they understood his instructions. During baptism we are called to be followers of Jesus.  Since we have accepted the call of Jesus, we must be ready to leave behind our former lifestyle, a life of sin; and begin a new lifestyle in Christ, a life of virtue.