1 Jn 3:22–4:6
Mt 4:12-17, 23-25
Both John the Baptist and Jesus attracted large crowds. And yet they both preached a severe message “Reform your lives. The kingdom of God is at hand”. They both also had what we would call today a huge fan base, but they also made enemies who wanted nothing more than to remove them from the picture. And so today we have the situation where the Baptist has been imprisoned and Jesus withdraws to Galilee – presumably to escape the attention of his enemies. But as Matthew points out, he is really fulfilling his mission as Messiah. And by preaching and healing the sick everywhere he goes, he attracts even larger crowds from all over the country and beyond the river Jordan.
Jesus didn’t merely preach the idea of reforming lives. In the words of Isaiah the prophet, he came as light in the darkness to teach us and show us how. He didn’t simply preach about forgiveness, he actually forgave his enemies who would put him to death and the friends who would betray him. He acted out the Good News that he preached.
And he did it all with a sense of great urgency: “The kingdom of God is at hand”. He went about Galilee into every nook and cranny proclaiming the Gospel, bringing light to the people sitting in darkness.
As Christians, we claim him as our Savior and our ideal. But he is not fully ours until his words and deeds become part of our very being. In this year of the Lord 2011, Jesus needs the flesh of our beings to carry his light into a world darkened by fear and hatred. He needs our hands to touch the sick who are wounded in body and spirit, whose cure may be more dependent on our caring than on all the medical technology available to them. May the reality of his presence in us proclaim to everyone we meet: “The kingdom of God is at hand”.
Fr. Damian Towey, CP is a member of the community at Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center, North Palm Beach, Florida.