Reflection on This Week’s Readings

WORTH THE RISK

Perhaps Peter, Andrew, James, and John had heard rumors of this wandering preacher Jesus. Maybe they had been growing restless for some time in their lives as fishermen. It’s possible they sensed that something was shifting in the world around them. They could have been fed up with the brutality of the Roman Empire and were looking for a leader to bring about change. Maybe they longed for something more, for a better way of living and loving and being. Maybe they were just so taken aback by this invitation to drop everything and follow that they couldn’t help but say yes. We don’t know their reasons for joining the Jesus movement that day, but there was clearly something so compelling about this kingdom of heaven (Matthew 4:17) that they were willing to drop their nets, risk everything, and not look back.

Perhaps we too hear in the gospel today a renewed invitation to get swept up in this kingdom, a call to drop old ways of being and embrace a life of following Jesus. Maybe this vision of the kingdom catches us when we witness ancient scripture finding new life in our hurting world. Perhaps we glimpse the possibilities of the heavenly kingdom when communities of unlikely people gather to share bread and wine at the same table, and when we see the hungry being fed, the suffering being cared for, the lonely finding welcome, the oppressed finding freedom. Suddenly, we know that this is God at work.

As Jesus reminds us, the kingdom of heaven is not a far-off kingdom. It draws near to us, breaking in around us perhaps in the moments when we least expect it. And when we catch sight of it, we just might never be the same. A world where the sick are healed, the hungry are fed, the outcasts find belonging, and ordinary days are filled with holy purpose? That’s a kingdom worth risking everything for.

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THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY
In Year A, the Sundays after Epiphany explore the narratives of Jesus’ early ministry and preaching for their meaning for Christian faith and life.

 

 

Matthew refers to Jesus as the great light and stresses the immediacy of the fishermen’s obedience to Jesus’ call. Jesus’ call is to repentance. Over the centuries, Christian theologians have variously understood what Matthew means by “the kingdom of heaven.”

 

 

As is sometimes the case, the reading provides the Old Testament passage that is cited in the gospel. Along with Matthew, Christians have seen in Jesus Christ the great light that the prophet anticipates and the salvation God promised. Most of this passage is appointed also for Christmas Eve. On this Sunday, the passage stresses the light of Jesus’ ministry.

 

 

In today’s semicontinuous reading of 1 Corinthians, Paul writes that baptism is about the death of Christ and the power of God, not about identification with quarreling groups of Christian believers. The twenty-first-century church, with its myriad denominations, humbly hears Paul addressing our current fractured situation.

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