22 Jan 2023 – 3rd Sunday, (A)

22 Jan 2023 – 3rd Sunday, (A)

Sunday of the Word of God

Catholic Schools week starts today

(1) Isaiah 9:1-3

Isaiah foretells a Saviour for the people who walked in darkness

In the former time God brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness-on them light has shined.

You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder.

Responsorial: Psalm 26:1, 4, 13-14

R./: The Lord is my light and my salvation

The Lord is my light and my help;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
before whom shall I shrink? (R./)

There is one thing I ask of the Lord,
for this I long,
to live in the house of the Lord,
all the days of my life,
to savour the sweetness of the Lord,
to behold his temple. (R./)

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Hope in him, hold firm and take heart.
Hope in the Lord! (R./)


(2) 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17

Even in the early Church there was disunity, through rivalry and schism

I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarrelling among you, my brethren. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apol’los,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Gospel: Matthew 4:12-23

Jesus calls his the fishermen to leave everything to follow him

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles- the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.”

From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea-for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John , in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.


Can we change our way of living?

When Jesus began his public ministry of preaching and healing, John the Baptist had already been arrested, putting and end to his movement of religious revival. At that point, instead of going back to Nazareth (i.e. instead of going home) , Jesus went to Capernaum. This marked a new beginning, whose purpose is described in a verse of prophecy: “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who lived in the land of the shadow of death, light has dawned.” Jesus would later refer to himself as the light of the world; and, in commissioning his disciples, he would tell send us out also, to be light to the world. His vocation is our vocation too.

In times past the idea of “vocation” was focussed mainly on doctors, nurses, priests and religious. But now it has been restored to its original, wider application, and all our baptised people are invited to experience their calling from God. There is nothing dramatic about this. It just means that I don’t just stumble into the Christian way by default, but that God has chosen me: “I have called you by name; you are mine.” “You didn’t choose me; no, I chose you, and I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that would remain.” If the gospel is now, and I am every person in the gospel, then, through the gospel of today, I am being called again.

The starting-point of Jesus’ message was very like that of John the Baptist. “Turn from your sins, and back turn to God, because the kingdom of heaven is near.” Turning away from sins is a voluntary act, which can be reversed. There is a story to illustrate that point. When Leonardo da Vinci was asked to do a painting of the Last Supper, he searched far and wide for models for each person in the scene. He found a fine-looking young man, full of vitality, as the perfect model for Jesus. In the following months he did the same for models for each of the apostles, leaving Judas till last, not knowing how to represent him. Finally, he came across a tramp whom he thought was ideal for the part. Leonardo brought him to his studio, but while the work was in progress, he came to a shocking realisation. This man had been with him months before, representing Jesus. In the meantime he had taken to drink and lost his way, and was now homeless. It was a shock to Leonardo, and a prod to conversion for the man who modelled as Judas.


  1. Joe O'Leary says:

    Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali… This refers to two of Jacob’s sons, two of the tribes of Israel, and to the area where Jesus spent his life, ‘Galilee of the Gentiles,’ perhaps a somewhat marginal region, linked with foreigners and their culture. The late Sean Freyne devoted his scholarly career to the study of Galilee. ‘Galilee: From Alexander the Great to Hadrian 323 BCE to 135 CE: A Study of Second Temple Judaism’ (University of Notre Dame Press, 1980), ‘Galilee, Jesus and the Gospels’ (Gill and Macmillan, 1988), and ‘Galilee and Gospel’ (Mohr Siebeck, 2000; Brill, 2002). Publisher’s note: ‘Galilee has long been a subject of fascination and scholarly inquiry because of its association with the formative periods of both Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity. Sean Freyne undertakes the difficult but essential task of bringing together literary and archaeological evidence to reconstruct the geographic, social, and religious world of Galilee in Hellenistic and Roman times. Both literary and archaeological evidence are essential for the study of early Judaism and the quest for the historical Jesus. Freyne fruitfully examines both areas of inquiry and makes substantial contributions to ongoing scholarly debates.’

    The joy of the Advent and Christmas seasons continues to resonate in today’s readings. Our hearts are lifted by the elevated tone of the prophet Isaiah, looking forward in confidence of God’s salvation of his people, linked with the figure of the Messiah. Just a few lines after today’s first reading we find these words:

    For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
    Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever. (Isa 9:6-7)

    God will visit his people to redeem them. But today’s Gospel looks beyond Israel to the nations of the world. On them too, light has dawned. What most conflicts with Isaiah’s joyful message is the horrible phenomenon of war. Isaiah boldly proclaims that God will abolish war from all the earth.

    He will judge between the nations
    and will settle disputes for many peoples.
    hey will beat their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.

    Nation will not take up sword against nation,
    nor will they train for war anymore. (Isa 2:4)

    The wolf will live with the lamb,
    the leopard will lie down with the goat,

    the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together;
    and a little child will lead them.
    The cow will feed with the bear,
    their young will lie down together,
    and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
    The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
    and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
    They will neither harm nor destroy
    on all my holy mountain,

    for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea. (Isa 11:6-9)

    Psalm 46:9 likewise promises: ‘He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.”

    Isaiah made his prophecy in the 8th century BCE and we are now in the 21st century CE, nearly three millennia later. Was this promise an illusion, and did Jesus bring us inner peace instead, ‘a peace the world cannot give’ (Jn 14:27)? (as suggested in Benedict XVI’s ‘Jesus of Nazareth’). Or must we wait till the end of the world to see this happy prophecy come true?
    Let’s at least retain from Isaiah’s words the message that no limit can be set to God’s saving purpose. God wills world peace, and his Spirit is constantly working against the obstacles we set in its way. ‘No more war! War never again’ (Paul VI to the United Nations, 4 October 1965). A world consensus is growing that war is always evil, even if in some cases a necessary evil. (As Hannah Arendt remarks, when we talk of a lesser evil we tend to forget that it is still evil.) The dread of nuclear extinction is making us treat war as a dangerous activity we can no longer afford. Peaceniks were ridiculed once, but longing for peace is now deeply rooted in people’s minds and hearts.
    To abolish war, along with slavery, poverty, and hunger, is no longer a crazy utopian project. It is a challenge to the human race to be worthy of itself, to rise to its dignity as created in the divine image, and to restore on the Creator’s behalf the beauty of his world. The light of these aspirations ‘shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’ — or ‘has not grasped it’ (ou katelaben) (Jn 1:5). The light shines, from beyond the world, but entering into the world, and it brings peace to our heart if we open them to it. Let it bring peace to our thoughts and to our words as well, so that we become pleaders for peace, agents of peace, peacemakers. In Ireland we were drunk on violence in 1922-23 and again in 1969-97, and the bitter taste even of that first conflict remains to this day. Yet we have also been peacemakers on the international stage, a blessed role. Conflict resolution, and the therapy of peoples wounded by the trauma of war, are the skills we need to develop first and foremost. If our soldiers become more admired for peacekeeping operations than for anything else, this does not make us a wimpy second-rate nation but puts us at the forefront of a future civilization of peace.

  2. Thara Benedicta says:

    Key Message:
    Our Lord Jesus says to each one of us “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”

    Our Lord Jesus calls “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people”. He is not expecting us to live a mediocre, just getting by life, but a thundering, roaring life like His, whose voice is heard till now. When we go to Heaven, our Lord Jesus Christ is expecting us to bring some more people in our bag. This will be the purpose of our life.

    What should we do to bring some more people in our bag to Heaven?
    God has already given us a community in our hands for us to take care. There are none apart from the people who are with us wherever we are. We cannot get frustrated saying that their ways are not good, because we are the ones who are responsible to take care of them. God has put their souls in our hands to feed them. The Lord Jesus has said “Feed my lambs”. So He has already selected the lambs for each one of us and placed them in a perfect place within our vicinity.

    The family members are the first level of lambs. All the married saints first took care of their family members and added them to their basket. They focussed on investing their time for salvation of the souls of their family members. A mother was very worried about the undisciplined life of her daughter. When she was pondering about it, she heard the silent voice of the Holy Spirit: “Pray the Divine Mercy chaplet for your daughter”. She observed that whenever she prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet, her daughter was very disciplined. Initially the mother was clueless on how to mend or take care of her daughter, but she found that she could cover her daughter with her prayers. Never worry about how to take care, replace all your worries with worship.

    Some people have big dreams but feel handicapped because of their family responsibilities. I heard this story long ago – Once a mother of twelve children had a desire to go ahead and preach the Gospel. So she enquired with a preacher “God has put into my heart a desire to go ahead and preach the Gospel. But I am confused now, whether to take care of my twelve children or preach the Gospel. Please give me your directions”. The preacher replied “You should be happy that God has not only put the desire in your heart to preach the Gospel but He has also provided you a community for you to preach”.

    There is no best place like home to start our preaching ministry. Our first pulpit will be our own home.

    What are our other pulpits?
    The place we are is our pulpit. People who do not know Jesus will not be coming to church. The people who actually need help are working with us in our workplaces, shopping, eventually everywhere. Many people turn violent and harass others, because they have lost hope. Since they do not know Jesus who is ready to forgive their sins and enable them to live a fulfilled life, they already feel lost. They have not experienced the compassion of God. When we speak kind words to all, without making fun of their mistakes, they feel the touch of God. We should not neglect anyone too.

    Our preaching ministry is a compassionate ministry. We cannot convince them with our words that God is good. We should preach like our St. Francis of Assissi has asked us to do, “Preach the Gospel always. If necessary use words”.

    How do you preach the Gospel without using words?
    Our life can be a perfect sermon which the world is in need of. Keeping silent when people around us are gossiping, is a way to preach “Do not gossip”. Not acting wild when others are angrily shouting at us, is the preaching “Be gentle”. When people who have hurt you are in agony, voluntarily going ahead to help them, is the preaching “Love your enemies”. When all have given up, trusting in God is the preaching “Trust in God”. Daily praying for others is the preaching to be an intercessor. It goes on and on…

    Our Lord Jesus has said “You are the light of the world”. Our lives should shine in front of people, so that they admire our Lord Jesus Christ. People who do not know Christ will not open a Bible and read.

    Our lives should reflect the Christ whom we follow. We should be the open Bible for them to follow.

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