1/22/2023 (Sunday) Today’s gospel reading: Matthew 4:12-17
12 When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.
13 He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,
14 that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled:
15 Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles,
16 the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.
17 From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
1/22/2023 (Sunday) Today’s gospel reflection: Matthew 4:12-17
…in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.
We know that Zebulun and Naphtali are two of the twelve tribes of Israel. Now they are names of places within the region of Galilee, a place far from Jerusalem and therefore remote. Other biblical places in this region are Capernaum, Chorazin, Magdala, Cana and of course Nazareth. This is the region where foreigners such as the Syrians and Babylonians passed through as they made their conquest of Israel and thus, these places were often the first and foremost to experience severe sufferings. Moreover, these places were inhabited by a large number of Gentiles.
That is why the gospel passage above says the people there “sit in darkness”, a quote from Isaiah 9:2, it refers to the sufferings of the people and their lack of knowledge or ignorance of the God of Israel. Jesus who is the Light has chosen to begin His public ministry in this region and therefore, the prophesy of the Old Testament has been fulfilled. The people there who lived in darkness has now “seen the Light” in Jesus.
Verse 17 gives the the gist of Jesus’ invitation: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”. He is telling the people then and He is telling us now to make a choice: repent (meaning to turn away from darkness) and live a new life in the Kingdom where He Himself is the King, or remain in the dark. May we not refuse the Light but embrace it. Amen