lunes, 27 de enero de 2014

Fr. Gérard’s Corner

Each Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Old Testament sheds light on the Gospel. For Matthew, today’s beginning of Jesus’ ministry begins the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of orldwide enlightenment and universal deliverance. Capernaum is “beyond the Jordan,” that is, on Israel’s edge, in more ways than one.

At the crossroads of Jewish and Gentile society, Capernaum is populated by people “on the edge” of or even outside the law; thus, Capernaum mirrors Matthew’s (our) own “mixed” community.

Could Jesus be any clearer about where he wants his Church to be? In the world, though not of it—think of Pope Francis’ call for the Church to “step outside itself,” bringing Christ to society’s “peripheries.” But as Paul reminds the Corinthians, none of us, individuals or splinter groups, has it all together. Together, however, we have it all: Christ’s own life to share, Christ’s gospel to proclaim.

Note too that Matthew portrays Jesus both withdrawing and preaching, suggesting that both movements be imitated by Jesus’ disciples. Matthew uses “withdraw” at least ten times to describe Jesus’ response both to threats and accolades. Though making Isaiah’s program his own, “smashing the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, the rod of their taskmaster,” Jesus will accomplish this peaceably, by liberating word and life-restoring deed. This Messiah’s way, Jesus’ kind of kingship (and therefore Jesus’ church’s way of acting and the nature of its ministry) must differ radically from the world’s exercise of authority and achievement of goals. Radical challenge, never violent confrontation. Reconciliation, never retaliation.

J.S. Paluch
Father Gérard, CJM

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