Monday, January 17, 2011

January 23, 2011 - 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Listen Here!     History Redeemed 
(a reflection on the readings by Scott Hahn)
Isaiah 8:23-9:3
Psalm 27:1,4,13-14
1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17
Matthew 4:12-23

Today’s Liturgy gives us a lesson in ancient Israelite geography and history.
Isaiah’s prophecy in today’s First Reading is quoted by Matthew in today’s Gospel. Both intend to recall the apparent fall of the everlasting kingdom promised to David (see 2 Samuel 7:12-13; Psalm 89; Psalm 132:11-12).

Eight centuries before Christ, that part of the kingdom where the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali lived was attacked by the Assyrians and the tribes were hauled off into captivity (see 2 Kings 15:29; 1 Chronicles 5:26).

It marked the beginning of the kingdom’s end. It finally crumbled in the sixth century B.C., when Jerusalem was seized by Babylon and the remaining tribes were driven into exile (see 2 Kings 24:14).
Isaiah prophesied that Zebulun and Naphtali, the lands first to be degraded, would be the first to see the light of God’s salvation. Jesus today fulfills that prophecy - announcing the restoration of David’s kingdom at precisely the spot where the kingdom began to fall.

His gospel of the Kingdom includes not only the twelve tribes of Israel but all the nations - symbolized by the “Galilee of the Nations.” Calling His first disciples, two fishermen on the Sea of Galilee, He appoints them to be “fishers of men” - gathering people from the ends of the earth.

They are to preach the gospel, Paul says in today’s Epistle, to unite all peoples in the same mind and in the same purpose - in a worldwide kingdom of God.

By their preaching, Isaiah’s promise has been delivered. A world in darkness has seen the light. The yoke of slavery and sin, borne by humanity since time began, has been smashed.

And we are able now, as we sing in today’s Psalm, to dwell in the house of the Lord, to worship Him in the land of the living.

Yours in Christ,

Scott Hahn, Ph.D.
For the younger ones . . . . from Sadler Religion.  Reflection followed by discussion . . . .

Reflection on 1st Reading  Isaiah 8:23-9:3

Most of us know how it feels to live in the "land of gloom" for a few hours or days or even longer. The people in the region around Galilee were overcome by gloom when their enemy, the Assyrians, conquered them. But Isaiah promises that God's power is greater than the powers of darkness. "A great light" will lead them into "abundant joy."

Jesus is "the great light" who leads us out of the land of gloom. By his death and resurrection, he has assured us that darkness can never have the last say.

Discussion Questions for 1st Reading

Sometimes we get used to living in gloom. What would it feel like to have our gloom lightened and brightened? Sometimes we get used to living with a burdensome yoke. What would it feel like to have that yoke smashed? We can get used to living under the rod of a "taskmaster" (that is sometimes ourselves). What would it feel like to have that rod and those tasks lifted from us? Identify the gloom and the yoke and the burdensome (unimportant) tasks. Ask the Lord to come, shine his light, and set you free for the important things in life. What do you want more of in your life?

Reflection on 2nd Reading  1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17

People who live in the light must avoid divisions and rivalries. Even though the followers of Christ are uniquely different from one another, Paul reminds us that Christ cannot be divided. And we cannot change his message to suit ourselves. Christ's cross is at the heart of our Christian faith.

It is perfectly natural to have favorites in our lives. We have favorite people, favorite teachers, favorite friends. However, we must always remember that even our favorites are human beings like us. No one is perfect except Christ, and it is him that we are to follow. Our favorite people can be role models for us, but we cannot put them in the place of Christ and his loving action in our lives.

Discussion Questions for 2nd Reading

How do we feel when someone we have looked up to fails in some way? Does this mean we were wrong to look up to them? Does this mean that they were all wrong in everything they said or did?

Someone once asked a very old religious sister, "Who is Jesus to you?" She very quickly answered, "The Lord is my ROCK." When someone fails us, do we talk to Christ about it, or do we stay in our disappointment and anger? How can we help ourselves and others to accept disappointments as part of life? How can disappointments in life lead us to lean on Jesus more as our steadfast rock?

Reflection on the Gospel Reading Matthew 4:12-17

Once again the gospel focuses on Jesus as the Promised One of the Old Testament. Jesus began his preaching in Galilee and is identified by Matthew as "the great light" foretold by Isaiah. Jesus' first message to God's people is a powerful one. He says that we should reform our lives, or repent, for "the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Discussion Questions for the Gospel Reading

"To repent" means that we take a complete change of direction in our lives. Jesus made it possible for all of us to begin again and be saved.
After John was put in jail, he knew that preparing God's people for the kingdom was now totally up to him. So he chose a place to live (Capernaum-by-the-sea) and "began to proclaim." Jesus made a new beginning.

Chaim Potok, a Jewish novelist, once began one of his novels with the statement, "Beginnings are hard." To repent means to begin again. When have you made a new beginning? How can you make a new beginning today in some area of your life?

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