The Sunday of The Word of God
Pope Francis invites us to celebrate the third Sunday of ordinary time to celebrate as The Sunday of The Word of God. In his Apostolic letter “Aperuit Illis,” Pope writes, “Devoting a specific Sunday of the liturgical year to the word of God can enable the Church to experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of his word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world.” Catechism of the Catholic Church 105 says God is the author of Sacred Scripture. "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit." The Sunday of The Word of God reminds us to read the Scripture and have great understanding.
Tourists were visiting the famous Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. While they were below ground in the giant cave, the lights went out. Among those trapped in the darkness were two children: an eight-year-old boy and a five-year-old sister.
The situation was scary, especially for children. Suddenly the little girl began to cry. The eight-year-old brother was heard saying, “don’t worry, Amy. There is a man up there who knows how to turn the lights on again.”
The story is a beautiful illustration of the prophecy of Isaiah in the first reading. In the Gospel Matthew says this prophecy is fulfilled: ‘the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen.’ Matthew 5:17, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”
A thousand years before Jesus, God promised King David that his kingdom will last forever (2 Samuel 7). David’s kingdom consisted of the 12 sons of Jacob and their descendants, which made the 12 tribes of the kingdom of Israel. However, by 922 BC after the death of Solomon, the kingdom of Israel was divided into two - the 10 tribes of the north become the kingdom of Israel with the capital of Samaria and then the two tribes in the south become the kingdom of Judah with the capital of Jerusalem. Isaiah lived in a divided Israel.
Invaders like Assyrians, Babylonians, and Romans always came through the north. It was the trade route of what were. The tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali were the first two tribes to go into exile. In 722 BC Assyrian exile, most of the tribes of Northern Kingdom Israel were wiped out from the face of the map. In 587 BC the remaining two tribes, and the Kingdom of Judah were taken into exile by the Babylonians. Around 537 BC Persians defeated the Babylonians and liberated the two tribes in the south. For sixth-century Jews, all of God’s promises were broken, and the kingdom was ruined. Isaiah says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (9:1). Isaiah proclaimed that God’s power is greater than the power of darkness and assured them of great light. Matthew sees here, through the coming of Messiah to Zebulun and Naphtali this prophecy is fulfilled. Precisely where the exile began is where Jesus is going to start the restoration, undoing the effects of the exile. Jesus started the restoration by announcing, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” The Greek word uses “metanoia” which means a profound change of heart.
In the second part of the Gospel, Jesus called four of the Apostles-two pairs of brothers to follow him. They left everything and followed him. Jesus told them “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They found the “great light” and learned everything from him.
The question is: How is Jesus going to gather the twelve tribes of Israel? He chose twelve apostles and thought at the Last Supper he going to gather the people of the new Israel. He entrusted the light to the twelve to carry to the end of the world. Today we are counted among the twelve to carry the light to those who are in darkness. Today, we, the new Israel, gather in celebration of the Eucharist, the nourishment for our journey, and send out to proclaim the Good News in our daily lives.