Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A- Reflections

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A- Homily by Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
Readings: Isa 8:23–9:3; Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14; 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17; Matt 4:12-23

Darkness of Judgment and Light of Salvation

“The Lord is my Light and my Salvation…”  This Psalm 27, often beautifully repeated here, in music, during our liturgy, just like Psalm 23, is a prayer of confidence in God. It is a prayer of trust in divine assistance. It is a prayer that challenges our fears, threats, inner darkness and lack of confidence in God, the author of Life, and the champion of our deliverance.

When we pray, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” The Lord is my life’s refuge of whom shall I be afraid?” we are re-acknowledging or re-inviting ourselves to trust God, the source of life, joy and happiness. In our faith contexts Light=rwa , metaphorically represents those positive things in our  lives and in the coners of our homes,  schools, offices and families. These certainly would include the joy and the perfection of happiness, salvation and restoration of fortunes- job opportunities, good health of mind and body. As believers, baptized Christians light represent the values of Christ, truth, faith, hope, love and unity courage and fortitude, which we embrace during our baptism. Even for those who have never being to the Church, they literary also know the usefulness of light. The lights in their homes, in their study rooms, in their cars, in the air planes, in the ship and in the mining industries.

 On the other hand, darkness,=$vx reminds us as Christians those negative things in  life: judgments, falsehood, lies, failures, fear that we are not safe or that our lives are in danger, violent,  lack of confidence in God, terrors of death.  It also reminds of those things that ruins our relationship with God- disobedience, lack of faith, disunity among ourselves, and lack of charity in words and actions.

So when Prophet Isaiah in today’s first reading said, “the people who walk in darkness have seen a great light,” =$vxb ~yklhh ~[h ( Isa 9:1) Isaiah, among other things, is making a clear demarcation between the faithful and the unfaithful of his time. Those who who responded with obedient to God’s word, that  Immanuel prophecy (Isa 7–8), not to fear,  not to rely on foreign alliance, and those who did not. Isaiah was drawing the line between the truth and the falsehood, between hope and despair, between the darkness of exiles, of the degradation of the land Zebulun and Naphtali by enemies and the future Light of liberations brought by Christ’s  residence and ministry in region of Zebulun (Matt 4: 12-23).

We are told in the Gospel, “When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdraw to Galilee. He left Nazareth to reside in Capernaum by the region of Zebulun and Napthali once put to darkness and devastated by the enemies. Jesus brought to fulfillment what had earlier preached on.
In fact what at stake, the choice between darkness and light, faith and faithlessness during the time of Isaiah is current today. Last Sunday I referred to the work, Benedict XVI Light of the World (2010) and some of the challenges of our times. Christ called Peter, James and John to be the light of the world. As Disciples of Christ you and I are invited to the same mission. James and John and Peter were fishermen. They were not perfect. Remember along the line Peter would even have to deny Christ. James and John would lobby for “cabinet positions” (Matt 20:21). They had their own weaknesses and dark sides. They may have also had their fears in following Christ- turning from fishing fish to fishing men and women, bringing Christ’s love and values to their regions, even at the risk of their economic security.

What are your own fears and uncertainties? What are those weaknesses? We can always work, obey God, and walk with Him to overcome the darkness of brokenness and faithlessness. I am sure there are also so many ways you and I have fought to defeat darkness. There are many ways we have brought smiles, hope and light of divine presence to the dark corners of the poor and needy neighbors of ours. The darkness of the Corinthian Community were immorality, quarrel, lack of respect for one another, back-biting, sycophancy, rivalries, lack of charity, lack of coherence and agreement in what they say, selfishness and divisions.
Thus Paul says,   “I urge you brothers and sisters in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that all of you agree in what you say…for it has been reported to me about you,… that there are rivalries among you—some said, “I belong to Paul,” others “I belong to Apollos”, while others say “I belong to Paul,” is Christ divided” (1 Cor 1:10-13, 17).

The Lord is our Light. Scripture wants us to reexamine ourselves today (2 Cor 13:5) to see whether we are walking in the light, defeating darkness, showing good examples, helping our neighbors and colleagues, practicing Christian hope and optimism even in difficult times, in moments of tragedies, ill heath, death, keeping our faith and trusting in God, our Light and refuge, the source of our life and salvation.
The Lord is my Light, the Lord is my Light, the Lord is my Light and my salvation! (Ps 27:1).  Peace be with you!