Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Isa 9:1-4; Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14 (R.v.1a); 1Cor 1:10-13, 17; Matt 4:12-23
In the Sacred Scriptures and in most religious settings, darkness is most often associated with pain and sorrow whereas light is said to be a source of joy. That is why the Christmas season is viewed as a period of great joy since Christ, whose birth we celebrate at that time, is seen as the light to the nations. The Gospel (Matt 4:12-23) makes a reference to that fact when it narrates the presence of Christ in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali as a fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah that was narrated in the First Reading (Isa 9:1-4).

The Lands of Zebulun and Naphtali belong to the territories of the Northern Israel that seceded from the Southern Israel following the prophecy of Ahijah (cf. 1Kgs 11:26ff). This prophecy was meant to bother on political secession but the bad side of it is that it also led to religious secession (1Kgs 12:26ff). Thenceforth, darkness overshadowed the Northern Israel territories because they turned away from the face of God.

This darkness reached its apex with the dismemberment of the Northern Israel by the Assyrians in 733-732 BC. All these brought them pains and sorrow but the coming of Christ brought them hope. Yet, for them to benefit from this coming, they must begin a process of healing the division between them and God. That is why Jesus began his preaching by saying, Repent (Matt 4:17).

Note that the religious schism that caused all those pains to the Northern Israel was an attempt by Jeroboam to secure the territory of the Northern Kingdom for himself. St. Paul understood the danger of such selfish division and hence, called on us in the Second Reading to shun all divisions but be united in the same mind and the same judgement (1Cor 1:10).

Based on our selfish desires for positions of authority and possession of power, we kill, destroy and tarnish the images of others. The killings in Southern Kaduna and the different wars in our land are signs of this.

As Christians, we are called to be light in the world of darkness and so bring healing to those who are in pain of separation from God. We cannot do this well if we are not united. Hence, let us pray with St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

Have a peaceful Sunday. It is well with you.

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