Weekly Reflection (26 Jan 2020)

3rd Sunday Year A

Isaiah 8:23-9:4
1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17
Matthew 4:12-23

Theme of the week: Is my faith life weighed down by disharmony and politics? Let me be that catalyst of positive change, to bring about unity to all who profess the love of Christ.

There is an old saying, “Birds of the same feather flock together.” In society and organisations, it is common that close-knit group of people form themselves into cliques. While closer social interaction of like-people are harmless; cliques can be damaging if their formation creates unhealthy politics that distracts them and others from the common goals of the organisation. In our church, cliques can be very damaging when the ensuing politics distracts us from our Christian mission. Even more so, the negative perception our church politics will dissuade non-believers from accepting our faith and our God. In the end, it is not Christ they reject, but it is the image of Christ we portray that they reject.

Paul encountered this exact situation at the Corinthian church, where Christians have formed factions and are in argument with each other. In the Second Reading, Paul addresses the divided church in Corinth, to those who professed: “‘I belong to Paul,’ or ‘I belong to Apollos,’ or ‘I belong to Cephas [i.e. Peter],’ or ‘I belong to Christ’” (verse 12). In the passage, Paul urges Christ’s followers to unite: “Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?, for there is only one Christ and Christ is not divided.” (verse 13) To heed Paul’s call, we must resist temptations to widen our divisions, but instead work earnestly on our common ground. After all, isn’t Christ our one common heritage? Isn’t Christ greater than all our differences combined? Otherwise, if we let our pride and petty church politics eclipse our Christian mission, in spite of Christ’s great sacrifice on the cross, we would be emptying the cross of its power! (verse 17)

At the time of the writing of the First Reading, Israel was under the repressive rule of the Assyrians, hence the analogies of the “yoke”, “bar” and “rod” (verse 9:4). While we may not be living under oppressive rulers today, when we let our human politics overshadows our Christian mission, we let our self-centredness and narcissism become the yoke, the bar and the rod that weighs over our Christian values. To lift the yoke of oppression, Isaiah foretold the arrival of a “great light” (verse 9:2), one who would confer glory on “the way of the sea”, in “the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali” (verse 9:1). He is Chirst who deliver us. On our parts, we must accept Him, not just on our lips but in our hearts and manifested through our actions.

The prophesy of the First Reading came to fulfilment in the Gospel passage. In the Gospel, we were told that Jesus made his home in Capernaum (verse 12). This fulfils the Old Testament prophesy, for Capernaum sits by the Sea of Galilee in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali. The second part of the passage describes the calling of the first four disciples, Peter, Andrew, James and John. Their reaction to the Lord’s calling is noteworthy: they immediately left their nets behind (signifying their old lives) and followed Jesus. We too are often weighed down and entangled by the values of the world – in our social lives, our family lives, and even our church lives. The first disciples show us how this entanglement may be lifted from our faith lives. Am I prepared to leave my nets behind and follow Him?

“May they all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you” (Jn 17:21, NJB) Let me be that catalyst of positive change, to bring about unity to all who profess the love of Christ. May the wisdom of the Holy Spirit be with you. Shalom, my brothers and sisters.

 



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