Monday after the Epiphany
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.
Introductory Prayer: My heavenly Father, you made me out of your infinite love. Even though I have failed to love you as a good child should, still you send me gift upon gift. You sent your Son to redeem me and to make me one with you, in and through your Son. You and your only beloved Son sent your Spirit of love and truth, the Holy Spirit, to dwell in me. Thank you for bringing me into the intimacy of your Triune love. In return, I offer you my own heart and my desire to respond generously to whatever you ask of me.
Petition: Jesus, help me to open my heart to you.
1. The True Light Is Here: John the Baptist did all that the Father had asked. Through it all he remained humble. The people thought he was the Christ; however, he would not allow the winds of pride to extinguish the light of truth, so he proclaimed that he was not the Christ. The world rewarded John the Baptist with silence and death. On the contrary, what treasure did God bestow upon him for his fidelity? Acclaim – “Welcome my good and faithful servant” – and eternal life. John was merely the voice calling people to repent and convert. Now the Word himself proclaims these words. John was a voice in the wilderness. Now the Word who is light and life itself enters the public scene. May the light of truth open our hearts to the true and everlasting Kingdom. Am I able to distinguish between what is gold in God’s eyes and what glistens so attractively yet is merely “fool’s gold”? Is this capacity consistent with what I preach by my word and example?
2. Jesus Preaches with More Than Words: Our Lord Jesus went about doing only good: healing the sick, comforting the lonely, forgiving sinners, and preaching the Gospel. Our faith tells us this, and we can visualize it as we read the Gospel. But do we really encounter our Lord like those who crossed his path 2,000 years ago? I can answer this question by looking at my life: Do I live more and more like Christ, or not? Do I appreciate and thank Christ for all the good he has done in my life? Do I want with all of my heart to be with Christ forever, on earth and in heaven? Where my heart is, there is my treasure. Like Christ, I am called to preach with more than words.
3. People Respond to the Truth: A disciple of Christ can never be discouraged, because people do respond to the truth, to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We see this throughout the Gospels and throughout the history of the Church. When our efforts to evangelize seem to fall on hard ground, we need to examine how we will react. Christ commanded us to preach his gospel in word and deed. He demanded that we produce fruit. Christ also said we would do greater things than he did. We also know that Christ has defeated sin and death. Knowing all this, how can we be discouraged by the lack of fruit in our efforts to evangelize? We do the work, and Christ takes care of the rest. It’s that simple.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, you came to save sinners; enter into my life anew on this new day. Remove all fear that I have of you, Lord Jesus. Teach me that you are a God of compassion and that you are meek and humble of heart.
Resolution: I will develop a simple plan to help my parish in its efforts to evangelize.