Is 8:23–9:3; I Cor 1:10-13, 17; Mt 4:12-23
Three men were pacing nervously outside the delivery room at a hospital when the head nurse came out beaming. To the first she said, “Congratulations, sir, you are the father of twins.” “Terrific!” said the man, “I just signed a contract with the Minnesota Twins and this’ll be great press.” To the second man the nurse said, “Congratulations to you too. You are the father of healthy triplets!” “Fantastic!” he said. “I’m the vice-president of 3-M Company. This’ll be great P.R.!” At that point the third man turned ashen and ran for the door. “What’s wrong, sir? Where are you going?” called the nurse. As he jumped into his car, the man shouted, “I’m dashing to my office to resign. I’m the president of 7-UP!” (Msgr. Dennis Clarke). John the Baptist and Jesus surprised the self-righteous Jews by their call to repentance. Today’s Gospel, from the fourth chapter of Matthew, offers us Christians an equally surprising and shocking announcement by Jesus: “Repent; the Kingdom of God is near.”
Today’s Scripture readings tell us that Christ has brought us into the Light (4:16), by calling us to be partners in building the Kingdom of Heaven. The first reading contains the prophetic reference to Christ as the Light that dispels darkness.
A young man who later became a Cardinal was returning by sea from Italy to his native England. While the boat was detained in Sicily, young Newman fell ill and nearly died. During his convalescence, he wrote these words: “Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom’” because he believed that the prophecy of Isaiah had come true: “People who walked in darkness have seen a great light”.
We too have our hours of darkness. The death of a lifelong spouse, an unexpected rejection by a loved one, a smashed dream of business success or the loss of good health can throw us into a temporary darkness. But at such tragic moments, allow the light of Christ to shine in you. He will illumine the shadows of your hearts, he will help you through rough storms of trials and troubles, until you have made the harbor of peace and bliss.
The Kingdom of Heaven is the theme of Jesus’ preaching. We probably shouldn’t interpret the “Kingdom of Heaven” as a place — such as the place we go when we die – but rather as God’s ruling power that emanates from Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven is the place where God rules.
In the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, we pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The kingdom of God is when the will of God is established on earth, when the world becomes the way God wants it to be. When God’s will is established, when the kingdom is established, evil will be destroyed. When the kingdom comes, there will be no more poverty or war, no more hatred or injustice, no more corruption or violence. But it is very important for us to realize that we have a role in establishing God’s will on earth.
It is true that the light of Christ first shone in Galilee but it was meant to bring light to everyone who comes into the world. Hence Jesus chose some to be his apostles telling them: “Come after me, I will make you fishers of men.” Fishers’ is not just a metaphor but a mission, a mission to bring the light of Christ to cover the earth, to carry faith to the doubting, hope to the fearful, strength to the weak and comfort to the mourners.
You and I continue to believe that it is God’s intention to establish the kingdom. The good news today is that Jesus calls you and me to join him in building Kingdom of God just as he called his disciples in today’s gospel. What are we to do now? And how are we to build? Every single good work, a single act of loving kindness is important. You may feel like, you are just like the broken bricks good for nothing. But know that broken bricks are needed in the construction as well.
So, dear friends! every one of your actions offered in faith is valuable and important. Shoveling the driveway for your neighbor next door, spending a few moments with a co-worker who is undergoing family problems, being patient with your parents or with your spouse might seem like small actions. But each one builds the kingdom. Do not hold back from seizing the opportunity to do them. For even a small action might be the action that allows the Messiah to return. Even a simple action of loving kindness on your part might be the addition that tips the scales and establishes the kingdom of God.