JESUS’ FIRST WORD
The Gospel writer Matthew takes good care with the story where Jesus is going to make his public appearance. The voice of the Baptist is silent and they begin to hear the new voice of Jesus. The dry and somber passage of the desert disappears and the green and beauty of Galilee takes center stage. Jesus abandons Nazareth and goes over to Capharnaum, on the shores of the lake. Everything points to the appearance of a new life.
Matthew reminds us that we are in the «Galilee of the Gentiles». He already knows that Jesus has preached in the Jewish synagogues of those villages and hasn’t been moving among the pagans. But Galilee is the crossroads; Capharnaum is a city open to the sea. From here will arrive salvation to all peoples.
Suddenly the situation turns tragic. Inspired by a text of the prophet Isaiah, Matthew sees that «the people dwell in darkness». Upon the land «there are shadows of death». Injustice and evil reign. Life can’t grow. Things aren’t the way God wants. Here the Father doesn’t reign.
However in the midst of the darkness, the people are going to see «a great light». In between the shadows of death «a light has started to shine». That is always Jesus: a great light that shines in the world.
According to Matthew, Jesus begins his preaching with a cry: «Repent». This is his first word. It is the hour of conversion. We must open ourselves to God’s reign. Don’t remain «seated in the darkness», but «walk in the light».
Within the Church there is a «great light». It’s Jesus. In him God is revealed. We mustn’t hide it by trying to be the protagonist. We mustn’t put anything in its place. We mustn’t change it into theoretical doctrine, into cold theology, or into boring words. If the light of Jesus goes out, we Christians will be changed into what Jesus so feared: «some blind people who try to guide other blind people».
That’s why the first word we need to hear today is: «Repent»; recover your Christian identity; return to your roots; help the Church pass to a new stage of Christianity more faithful to Jesus; live with the new conscience of followers; put yourselves at the service of God’s reign.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf