Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
21 Jan 2020
Kris Veldheer

First Reading: Isaiah 8: 23 – 9 :3
Responsorial Psalm: 27: 1, 4, 13-14
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1: 10-3, 17
Gospel: Matthew 4: 12-13

New Beginnings

It’s hard to believe, but January 2020 is almost over. This time not only is it a new year but a new decade too. Although we are in what is called Ordinary Time, today’s readings speak of new beginnings that are far from ordinary.

In the passage from Isaiah, the prophet envisions a time when darkness becomes light. This echoes other passages from Isaiah where after a time of loss, recovery is appearing. Today’s Gospel reading picks up on this theme as well. Every time I read the Isaiah passage, I flashback to the aria from Handel’s Messiah, where the bass voice accompanied by the cello section musically brings these words to life. Using the lowest of the voices perhaps to highlight the darkness, the music deftly rises to let the light in. As the aria concludes, I can feel the new beginning about to be announced in the next chorus.

Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians addresses a community of believers that are in trouble. They are a group of rivals instead of a Christian community and they have lost sight of who they are as the body of Christ. Paul reminds them of their baptism into Christ, but that’s only the first step. According to Paul, the goal of the Christian community is to proclaim the reign of God. What does that look like for us? Are there ways we can affirm our diversity and not our divisions? Beginning to be a community does not require uniformity but rather for us to find creative approaches to the many facets of Christianity.

The biggest beginning in this week’s readings is from the Gospel of Matthew. After hearing that John had been arrested, Jesus goes to Galilee and begins to preach repentance. Jesus goes public. His message is to repent, turn around, for God’s kingdom is here. The call to God’s kingdom calls us to become part of a new community. However, the preaching has just started when we encounter a very familiar passage from Scripture, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of people.” (NAB) With this call, Jesus asks these modest working men as well as each of us to follow.

Matthew writes that Peter and Andrew responded immediately, leaving their fishing nets behind. Then James and John are called to follow Jesus and they respond leaving their boat and their father behind. The men were the first disciples who joined Jesus even though they didn’t know what they were getting themselves into. What Matthew prioritizes is the sense of urgency that came with Jesus’ message. This message demands decision and action from those who hear it. There was no hesitation from the first disciples.

But how do we follow the call to discipleship? Where do we need to say “yes” and take a chance on God? Few of us may be able to leave our jobs and families in the way the Gospel story illustrates. Although some may be called to change vocations, we can see ourselves from a new perspective. Along with the readings for this week, let’s find the new beginnings in our own lives during this ordinary time.

Kris Veldheer
Director, Paul Bechtold Library