Homily for third Sunday, ordinary time year A.
The prophet Isaiah says that the people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in the land of deep shadow a light has shone. And Jesus Christ is the light that has shone in the deep shadow of our lives, he is the light that guides us along the right part. In the gospel according to John 8:12 Jesus says, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life. Even at birth he guided three wise men all the way from the East to Bethlehem by the light of a star, he is the light that shines in the darkness of our lives. Matthew tells us in today’s gospel passage that in Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah.
The prophet Isaiah reminds us today that those who walk in darkness have seen a great light; to you and I who walk in the darkness of sin, a light has shone. This is a challenge to us to focus on the light and not be distracted by anything like the Church of Corinth was. In our second reading this morning we learn that a report came to Paul that the Church of Corinth was divided, there was serious differences among them. Some said they belonged to Paul, another group said they are for Apollos, some others said they are for Cephas and while others said they are for Christ. But Paul asked the people; Was it Paul that was crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? In other words, Christ is the light and we must not be distracted from him.
I have no doubt in my mind that there are also all kinds of division in our Churches today, and these divisions arose from the quest for power, authority and popularity. These can be a source of distraction from the very reason we come to Church, for we come to Church for no other reason but to worship God.
Some Christians get distracted because they focus their attention, their energy and everything they got on the person presenting the word of God to them and pay little or no attention to the word itself. That was what must have happened in the Church of Corinth; Paul came and preached the gospel of Christian freedom, freedom from the power of the law to live by grace. And probably some took him for a freedom fighter, one who has come to fight to free them from ‘Pharisaic burden’; they followed him and not the message.
Some said they belonged to Apollos. According to Acts of the Apostle 18:24-26 Apollos was an intelligent man, very eloquent in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, vast in scripture and so was probably admired by a section of the believers for his eloquence and not the message. The same thing must have happened with Cephas. Some also said they belonged to Cephas. Cephas is the Jewish translation of Peter, which means that Peter was a Jew. Probably some Jews followed him because they believed one cannot become a Christian without first been a Jew, the Jewish law must not be erased completely… Others said we belong to Christ.
The question I want to ask this morning is; who are you following? Are you following Paul, Apollos, Cephas or Christ? Are you taking side with man or with God? Some people today tend to follow men and women “of God” rather than God himself. They are distracted to follow eloquence, dramatic performances and thunderous voices than the message of Christ. I am not against eloquence or thunderous voices but we must not be distracted by them, but always remember that it is Christ we follow.
In the Catholic Church we have different groups and societies: St. Anthony’s society, St. Jude, St. Rita, St. Monica and so many others. We may belong to one or two of these societies but they all point to Christ the light of the world. The Church presents the Saints to us to emulate, to follow their lives of holiness to enjoy the light of Christ. It wasn’t St. Anthony or St. Jude that was crucified for us but Christ. Yet, our devotion to the Saints glorifies God whom they followed.
In our gospel passage this morning, Christ called Peter and his brother Andrew, James and his brother John. Follow me he said to them and they left everything and followed him, they followed the light of the world. They were doing there business when God called them, they were not lazing around but were occupied and busy, yet they responded. He is calling you and me today, he calls us by our names saying, follow me. Let us not be too busy to respond to the call of God, let’s not be too occupied to have time for the things of God. Like the brothers therefore let us drop our nets of distractions, of division, of anger, of sin to hear the voice of Christ and follow him. The message he preached and still preaches is; “Repent, for the kingdom of God is close at hand.