Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: Sunday 7:30am & 5:00pm
26 January 2014
[Readings: Is 8:23-9:3; Ps 26; 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17; Mt 4:12-23]
In today’s Gospel we see Jesus in the early days of his public ministry, calling the first members of his “team,” making the rounds of Galilee, teaching, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom, and curing those with sickness and disease. We see Jesus embodying the fact that he is the light to the peoples of the world … He is the one who will bring light where there is darkness.
After his resurrection and ascension, his chosen band would take up the mantle, and would literally take his light to the ends of the known world. His chosen ones might have had a few troubles to begin with, but once they became witnesses to his resurrection, there was no stopping them. In the Gospels throughout the year, we’ll hear of some of the hesitating steps that the apostles would first make – even false steps – but we recall what we see in today’s Gospel: as Jesus calls Peter and Andrew, and then James and John, they follow him without hesitation. The Lord is able to build on that initial generosity and enthusiasm that allowed them to respond to the call of the Lord so eagerly.
As Jesus went about proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom, he was acting in and with the power of God. God was truly breaking into the darkness of people’s lives through the words and actions of Christ … in and through Him, the true light of the world was breaking forth.
Now, Jesus’ followers were meant to be acting with the same power. The same light was meant to shine through the Church as it continued the ministry of Christ following his ascension and the sending of the Holy Spirit. In the second reading today Saint Paul addresses the situation of divisions in the Christian community … factions arising where people are claiming to belong to different parties. Such divisions dim the light that should be shining in and through the Church, and they hinder the power of God working as effectively as it might.
In many parts of the world this past week was observed as the week of prayer for Christian Unity … and so our second reading today is most apt: is Christ truly the centre of our spiritual life? Are we sure we’re following Christ, and not someone or something else?
In the past few days Pope Francis spoke about some of the divisions that can creep into the community. He spoke very strongly about how Christians must close the doors to jealousies, envy and gossip that divide and destroy our communities. He commented that a person who is jealous or envious has a bitterness in their heart, and they’ve forgotten how to sing, how to praise and what joy is. He warns us against being sowers of bitterness. The Holy Father also says that jealousy and envy lead to rumors and gossip which he says divides the community and destroy it. He went so far as to say that “rumours are the weapons of the devil.” (1) He concluded his remarks by praying for “our Christian communities so that this seed of jealousy will not be sown between us, so that envy will not take root in our heart, in the heart of our communities, and so we can move forward with praise to the Lord, praising the Lord with joy. It is a great grace [he said] the grace of not falling into sadness, being resentful, jealous and envious.”
It’s good to reflect on these warnings that St Paul presents to us, and also the Holy Father, because the Lord has called all of us and made us members of His Church. Like the first disciples and apostles, we are meant to be the bearers of the Good News of salvation in the midst of our world today. But we won’t do that very well if we’re turned in on ourselves, or if there is a fundamental disunity that prevents us working together for the mission of Christ. Yesterday we celebrated the feast of the conversion of Saint Paul … and it was a reminder that we should always pray for our own ongoing conversion to Christ, so that we will truly follow him above all things, and not fall into divisions, rivalries, factions.
On this Australia Day, as we pray for our nation, we are reminded that this is the place where we are called to be bearers of Christ’s light in the world. So we might ask ourselves: what are the challenging areas of darkness in our national scene that are calling out for the light of Christ to be brought to? What response and action is the Lord calling us to? Through the intercession of our national patroness, Mary Help of Christians, may God bless Australia, and may He help all of us to work together to continue the work of Christ in our land: to lead people to repent and come home to the Lord, to proclaim the Good News of the kingdom, and to share the Lord’s healing love with those weighed down by any form of oppression.
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