Sunday 22 January 2023
Mt 4:12-23

“Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: ‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the gentiles— the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned’. From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near’.”
(Mt 4:12-17)

It is interesting to note that Jesus begins his preaching ministry with the same words as John the Baptist: “Convert, for the kingdom of heaven has come near”. Now, however, as well as a change in preacher, there is a shift of emphasis in the proclamation. With John the Baptist, the imperative to “convert” is most pronounced. With Jesus, the emphasis falls predominantly on “for the kingdom of heaven has come near”. Now the true light has arrived: the light of the Messiah who is in our midst. Wherever there is darkness, there is no beauty, no clarity, no identity, no life to the full, no joy. In the darkness you don’t know where you are going… Jesus has enlightened the world through His Word, like no-one else before Him. He pronounces words of forgiveness, of mercy, of service, and of love, even for our enemies. He works miracles of healing, showing compassion for the sick, the suffering and the needy… above all it activates our heart to His message: the invitation to die to ourselves, to die to our close-mindedness and self-centredness. Thanks to His faithfulness, this light that enlightens can dwell in us, in me, in you: “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain, but if it dies it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24).

The true conversion lies in admitting that we are in darkness and to allow ourselves to be enlightened!

Fr. Giuseppe