The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul, Week IV-A, 26 January 2020
Isaiah 8:23-9:3 ><)))*> 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17 ><)))*> Matthew 4:12-23
In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.Genesis 1:1-2
The Bible clearly tells us everything in the beginning was dark. And since then, almost everything has always begun in darkness, like human life itself, or every new day, even new year!
Some relatives and friends have been complaining to me how 2020 started off with a lot of darkness.
And I totally agree with them!
Since the Christmas Season until last Friday, I have been officiating funeral Masses for parishioners and friends as well as praying for some relatives and friends who have passed away this January abroad. Also included in this vast swathe of darkness are some relatives and friends diagnosed with serious illnesses like Alzheimer’s and cancer.
In the news we find so many darkness at the start of 2020 like fears of World War III when an Iranian military officer was killed in an American drone attack in Baghdad on January 03; the January 12 phreatic eruption of Taal Volcano now threatening a catastrophic eruption anytime; and, this fast-spreading new corona virus from China that is reportedly so deadly.
Everything is so dark at the start of 2020 and January is not even over yet!
Darkness leads us into light
Even our readings today speak about darkness, especially the beginning of the public ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ after John the Baptizer was arrested.
When Jesus heard 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 Napthali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled.Matthew 4:12-14
However, these same readings assure us that not all darkness are gloomy after all. In fact, it is in darkness where we see the light of the gospel shining brightly.
Despite that dark note on the arrest of John the Baptizer, we actually have here the beginning of the good news of salvation with the start of the preaching and public ministry of Jesus Christ.
Darkness is always a prelude to light, like chaos is to order.
Sometimes, we need to experience some darkness for us to realize the need to be enlightened, to see more the beauty of light, to seek light – most especially of the love and mercy of God in Jesus Christ who had come to us on the darkest day of the year, December 25.
See how in our lives when bad things have to happen first before we can learn our lessons so well or find particular values we now treasure in life.
Sometimes, God allows us to be plunged into darkness to find him, to see him, to desire him and eventually have him.
First the Lord degraded the land of Zebulun and 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.Isaiah 8:23-9:1
Jesus comes to us in darkness
Darkness in the bible signifies sin and evil, failures and disappointments, struggles and sufferings, and finally, sickness and death. No one is immuned from darkness.
But with the coming of Jesus Christ who conquered evil and sin, darkness has become a blessing, an invitation for us to find him, to listen to him, and to follow him.
Fram 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 yo 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.Matthew 4:17-22
Jesus opted to start his public ministry and preaching in the “darkest region” of Israel at that time, among the peoples living in darkness of sins and lack of meaning and directions in life. He comes to us most of the time during our moments of darkness to enlighten us and give us direction.
That makes every darkness a blessing in itself for that is when Jesus – the Gospel himself – shines brightly.
Let everything begin in the words of Jesus
Right away at the start of his preaching and ministry, people began following to listen to Jesus in Galilee, particularly at Capernaum where he used to preach in their synagogue near the shores of the Lake of Galilee (a.ka., Tiberias).
Everything began with the words of Jesus Christ: the sick were healed, those possessed by evil spirits were cleansed, sinners were forgiven, and those troubled found comfort in him.
Most of all, people found meaning in life as experienced by the first four disciples of Jesus, Simon and his brother Andrew, and the sons of Zebedee, James and John.
They were all rich and money was not a problem because they owned fishing boats that was very expensive at that time. Simon Peter is believed to be a very successful fisherman with many hired workers while the brothers James and John were beginning to learn the trade from their rich dad.
All four grew up together, worked together, most of all shared the same darkness in life, searching for meaning and direction in life that they have finally found in Jesus Christ while listening to his preaching. And that is why they immediately left everything and everyone behind after being called by Christ!
Very surprising was the attitude of Zebedee also who did not even bother to call or drag his sons back to their boat to help him because he must have felt and seen the bright sparks within his sons who have finally found meaning and direction in life through the preaching of Jesus Christ – “the Word who became flesh” – according to John who later wrote the fourth gospel account.
Such is the power of the word of God who cleanses us of our sins, empties us of our pride and foolish self to be filled with the wisdom and light of Jesus Christ.
In a decree issued last week, Pope Francis has declared every third Sunday of Ordinary Time as “Bible Sunday” to emphasize the importance of praying the Sacred Scriptures, listening to God himself present in his words found in the Bible.
Even today, everything begins with the words of Jesus Christ: that is why it is the very first part of the Mass, equally important with the Eucharist.
We can never experience Jesus Christ in his Body and Blood at the Holy Eucharist or even among our brothers and sisters gathered in the celebration of the Holy Mass unless we first meet and experience him in his words.
Most of all, we can never experience him in person without praying the Sacred Scriptures because according to St. Jerome, “Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Jesus Christ.”
Is there ay darkness in your life these days?
Try dusting off that bible you have kept in a little corner of your shelf — read it, study it, and pray it.
Be surprised in its powers for,
“Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart”Hebrews 4:12
A blessed Sunday to you!