Saturday, January 21, 2017

Homily Third Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo

Homily Third Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
·         Isaiah 8:23–9:3;
·          Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14;
·          1 Cor 10:10-13, 17
·         Matthew 4:12-23

The Lord is My Light and My Salvation
 The metaphors of darkness and light run through today’s readings. And it is very clear in the responsorial Psalm, “the Lord is my Light and my salvation” (Ps 27:1a). This is true. In fact, in biblical theology and spirituality darkness represents all kinds of misfortunes, woes, divisiveness, bad leadership, terrorism, evil and all forms of life’s difficulties while light symbolizes, joy,  love, unity, life and  hope for salvation for all peoples, of all cultures, Jews and Gentiles!.  

 Life’s difficulties throughout history we know can come in different forms. It can come in form of oppression, marginalization of your group, town, village, or invasion and violation of your faith, right and freedom as it was during the time of the Prophet Isiah (Isa 8:2–9:3). It can also come in form of divisions as was the as in in the Corinthian community of Paul’s time (1 Cor 10:10-13, 17). Finally, it can come in form of sins, temptations and illnesses, oppressions, as was the case in ancient cities of Capernaum, Zebulun and Naphtali, heard in today’s Gospel (Matthew 4:12-23). But the question is what do we do in the face of these challenges? What do we do in the face darkness?
Resistance, love, faith and hope. This  is true of Isaiah’s generation.  As we heard in the first reading the people were invaded- their land, property, right and freedom to worship and express themselves.  They were mocked, called all types of names, insulted, marginalized in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, especially whenever they dare to ask for their rights. An Assyrian Commander- in Chief, Tiglath-pilesser,(around 733BC) ordered their violation, and the Zebulunians and Naphtalians were even deported to Assyria. Their lands  were colonized and freedom deprived. Imagine the pains of being deported from your homeland! Imagine the feeling of being colonized! Imagine the feelings of foreign military's occupation of our property?

 In spite of all these, the hymn we heard in today’s first reading is that of joy and hope of salvation. For Isaiah it is all about hope and trust in the Lord. Light is on the way, he says. For Isaiah those who walked in darkness! Those who momentarily experience invasion, deprivation and marginalization will one day see the light of God, be liberated with the birth of Christ who would bring the freedom of truth, unity, oneness, peace, good health of mind and body. This is the mission of Christ Jesus preached also by Paul in the Second reading to the divided community of Corinth.
Again, and most importantly, Isaiah’ prophecy is fulfilled in today’ Gospel (Matt 4:12-23) where clear reference is made to the once marginalized Zebulun and Naphtali. Jesus is here. The Light is here.  In the Gospel Jesus arrives in these cities. He preaches repentance in these cities and evangelizes the surrounding communities of Galilee. He cures the darkness of diseases and sins in these regions. He also attracts vocations to the ministry of preaching and healing from this geographical area. Peter and Andrew, James and John are among those who abandoned their fishing nets to follow the Light of Christ and his witness of joy, hope, unity, forgiveness, peace and charity and of fishing for the salvation of humankind.

In our divisiveness, and seeming hopelessness we are called to focus on the Light. No doubt there may be times of darkness in our lives. Think of those elements of darkness in your life, home, and communities? Would you see cotemporary deprivation of your fundamental human rights, your property, and your freedom even to pray or worship as darkness?
What about division, racism, discrimination and misunderstandings in our neighborhood and societies? Sometimes we feel the weight and the darkness of disappointments, wars, terrorisms, distrust, defective-political structures and judiciary systems in our nations, joblessness, high cost of educations and health care, the disparity gaps between the rich and the poor, illnesses, the clutches of sins and bad habits.

 In these darkest moments the good news is that Christ who is the Light and our Salvation is on the way to “Zebulun and Naphtali”. He is here with us, in our “Zebuluns and Naphtalis,” in his Words and Deeds, in our homes and families, communities, schools, and places of work, nation capitals, in the Eucharist we receive, and in the support and encouragement we continuously give to one another, especially the poor and the voiceless.
Reflection questions

1.      Do you consider the Lord as your Light and Salvation?

2.      What would you consider elements of darkness in your life, home and towns and cities?

3.      Who are the Isaiahs of your time?  Or the St. Pauls' of your time?

4.      Would you consider yourself agent of light and conduit of unity or source peace?