Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
The gospel last Sunday had John the Baptist pointing out Jesus to His disciples: “Behold the Lamb of God”. It was a sort of introducing Jesus to the world (represented by the disciples of John). With the introduction, the ministry of Jesus begins. It begins neither with fireworks nor a welcome parade. The arrest of John brings Jesus into the limelight. He knew that John was sent to prepare the way for Him and now with him gone, it is time for Jesus’ entry into public ministry.
It is interesting to note that Matthew in his gospel presents Jesus moving to Galilee when He heard of John’s arrest and will make His home in Capernaum – this is going to be the region for much of Jesus’ public ministry. What is so important about Capernaum and Galilee that Matthew records them in his gospel? Matthew wants his readers to know that Jesus’ withdrawal to Galilee was no coincidence or that He was avoiding a similar fate of John; it was in fact, the fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah that we heard in our First Reading: In days past the Lord humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in days to come he will confer glory on the Way of the Sea on the far side of the Jordan, province of the nations. The people that walked in darkness, has seen a great light (Isaiah 9:1-2).
The very first thing that Jesus does is to extend an invitation by way of calling people to a new way of life and that new way of life calls for a change. Though the word used in the gospel today is ‘repent’, it is more of an invitation than a condemnation.
Change is something that we often resist. We are largely a creature of habit and that is why change can be unsettling. However, the mission of Jesus is about to bring change and to show that change is possible, Jesus invites His first disciples to this new way of life. The call of the disciples is not just to continue the mission of Jesus but also to be a sign that all things are possible to God, including change. The disciples of Jesus are going to be the catalyst of change – witnesses to the beginning of a new era of the Kingdom of God. In fact, the call of the disciples by name primarily is not just for mission but to be renewed and transformed by the love of God… to be signs in the world.
The call of the first disciples can be likened to our own calling which is symbolised by our baptism. The baptism is not just the cleansing of sin but it leads to something much greater – a sign of God in the world. For Paul while in Corinth, the believers of Jesus are called to be signs of unity as we heard in our Second Reading. Each of us have a mission and the question put before us through the Liturgy of the Word is, what sign am I going to be as a follower of Jesus in this world? It is up to each of us to discover what sign we are going to be for what is sure is that Jesus has called us each one by name as He did with His disciples.
May we go forth inspired by His call and be the sign that God wants us to be to the world.
Image: The calling of the apostles
Venice: Mosaics from San Marco, Santa Maria Assunta in Torcello, and Murano