Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 22, 2023
Our Sunday cycle of Scripture readings this year is based on the Gospel of Matthew. In today’s selection Matthew describes the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and quotes a passage from Isaiah, which the liturgy uses for our First Reading. The quote sounds familiar since we heard it in the Christmas liturgy: “The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light.”
Midnight Mass, when the beauty of the birth of the infant Jesus is before us, is a contrast to today’s scene. In the light of day Jesus walks by the Sea of Galilee, and our thoughts turn to the adult mission of the Messiah. That mission takes place in the midst of the Jewish people laboring under Roman rule. Along the dusty roads, and in towns and synagogues, in the face of human suffering and sin, and eventually from Calvary’s hill, Matthew is proclaiming that the light of Christ will conquer death.
And lest we think we can remain spectators, as perhaps we were on Christmas before the lovely nativity scene in our church, the liturgy invites us to shoulder the role of disciple, as Jesus calls his first followers. These simple Galilean fishermen left everything in response to that call. Can we hesitate, think it over, give Jesus an answer next week or next month? Not if we take to heart the urgent message of today’s Gospel: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”