January 26, 2014: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen. From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:12-17
Jesus’ Baptism and temptation precede this Bible passage. Verse 12 of Chapter 4 begins Jesus’ public ministry in Capernaum, which is larger than Nazareth and is located on a major trade route, ensuring that Jesus will reach a lot of people. The passage tells us that the people to whom he will minister have been in darkness (don’t know about Christ) but now he brings them great light (knowledge of himself and his message of salvation). He continues using the same words that John the Baptist used, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (near).”
Do you remember a time when you changed your mind about something? Perhaps you were going to say something mean to someone and then you thought better of it. Or, perhaps you were going to spend a lot of money on something and then decided it wasn’t worth it. Can you imagine hearing for the first time about God’s love, like the people from Capernaum? That pleasing God wasn’t about obeying a long list of rules but in being God’s love to the world? “To repent” simply means to turn and face a new direction. To “turn away” from doing the wrong thing. That’s all we need to do now to please God and to serve God’s people. What will we turn away from or, better yet, turn towards this week?
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