26th January 2014 – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
God promised to confer glory on the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations' by shining a great light upon them, a light that would dispel the darkness of those living in a land of deep shadow (see Isa. 9:1-2). This light would confer glory upon them by increasing their gladness, giving them joy in God's presence and freeing them from the burden of the oppression weighing upon their shoulders (Isa. 9:3-4). This light would be a child born to us, a son given to us, a ruler who would be called 'Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace' (Isa. 9:6). By withdrawing to Galilee and settling 'in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali' (Matt. 4:12-13), Jesus fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy. He is the light that shines on the land of deep shadow. He confers glory on the land.
The darkness and shadow over the land is the reign of sin and its wages, death (Rom. 6:23). The fear of death overwhelms and oppresses us, robbing us of joy, of the sense of God's presence. This darkness can only be dispelled by Christ, 'the light of the world' (John 8:12). He alone can disarm sin of its seductive hold over us, conquer Satan, and free us from the fear and bondage of death (Heb. 2:15). Jesus, 'the resurrection and the life' (John 11:25), shines his light upon us, thereby filling us with gladness, freedom and the joy of God's presence, and confers glory upon us.
Christ's light will dispel the darkness of sin and death in our lives as we enter into his kingdom through repentance and then follow him as his disciples. Repentance is necessary for we have to choose decisively to leave the old kingdom of sin and darkness and enter into the new kingdom of God's Son, the kingdom of truth and light and holiness. We must renounce all the ways of the kingdom of darkness, rejecting sin's allurements and seductions:
'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand' (v. 17). In order to fill us with gladness, the joy of his presence and freedom from the oppression of sin and death, Jesus further commands us, 'Follow me' (v. 19). Then, as we follow him, he will confer glory upon us.