SUNDAY HOMILIES FOR YEAR A
By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp
Homily for 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - on the Gospel
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Time to Begin

Isaiah 9:1-4 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17-18 Matthew 4:12-23

Matty, believes he should be a soul winner for Christ. In the parish Bible class he has learnt how to share his faith with people and lead them to Christ. But he has never done it. Matty prays to God to give him a sign so that he would know exactly when to start. One day Matty is travelling in the subway to meet his Bible study friends. He has his Bible in his handbag. A young man about his own age enters the train and sits next to Matty. He wears a T-shirt with the slogan, “who has the most toys wins.” Matty bends his head and says a little prayer, “Lord give me a sign when to start.” The young man’s cell phone rings. His friend wants him to come and pick him up. After arguing with his friend awhile, he says, “All right, I will come to the church and pick you up, but I will not enter the church. You will find me at the parking lot,” and hangs up. Matty bends his head a second time and prays, “Lord, I’m still waiting for the sign!” Finally, the young man turns to Matty and says, “You know, I got this weird friend who skips work on Sundays to go to church. I don’t get it.” Matty smiles, bends down his head once again and says, “Lord, the sign, the sign!” End of story.

Today’s gospel is on Jesus beginning his public work. After living a private life for more than thirty years, how did Jesus know exactly when to end the hidden life and begin his public work? Our first thoughts are to suppose that, of course, God his Father spoke to him and communicated to him exactly when to begin. He got a special green light from God. But today’s gospel suggests that Jesus probably arrived at this decision the way most people do, that is, by inferring from the things happening in their lives what God is trying to say to them.

Our gospel reading begins, “When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea” (Matthew 4:12-13). Jesus hears that John has been arrested. He figures that the renewal movement that John started would be needing a new leader. He looks around and finds that none is more suited to assume leadership of the movement than he himself. That’s it. That is all the sign he needs. He says farewell to his family and moves on to meet the challenges of his public calling. Unlike Matty in our story, Jesus does not sit there and wait for a special supernatural sign from above. Rather, Jesus learns to read the “signs of the times,” that is, to infer from the goings-on in the world around him what God might be saying of him.

What needs do we see in the world around us? Do you, for example, see the need for more messengers of God’s love and peace in our world today? What can you personally do about it, given the personal circumstances of your life? When are you actually going to start doing something about it, or are you, like Matty, waiting for a special sign from God? Well, that sign may never come. We, like Jesus, must learn to read the “signs of the times” in which we live.

Note that Jesus does not start preaching immediately. If he had started preaching right away from his home town in Nazareth, they would probably have silenced him there and then. The first thing he does is to look for a location and a community that would support his vocation. He finds it in Capernaum where he quickly attracts a group of friends and disciples. Even though he is the son of God, Jesus does not work like a lone ranger. He shares his vision and his ministry with people. That is why, even though he was stopped and killed just three years after, they could not stop his work and his vision for a new world of sisters and brothers. In Jesus we see not only what it means to do God’s work but also how to do God’s work.

Let us ask God today to give us the wisdom to read the “signs” of our own times so that we can correctly infer from events in the world around us what demands God is making of us, as individuals and as a church. And let us ask for the courage to start doing it, not just praying about it.

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