When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled:
Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,/ the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,/ Galilee of the Gentiles,/ the people who sit in darkness/ have seen a great light,/ on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death/ light has arisen. From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him. He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.
Passion for the word of God. Though more and more Catholics attend Bible studies nowadays, still our efforts are not enough. When asked to share what they have learned in Bible study, Catholics are often out of focus, talking about themselves and their problems rather than about the Word of God. At least, they should relate their sharing to the Bible lessons.
We are familiar with celebrations like the National Bible Week and Bible Sunday and activities like Bible distributions, Bible enthronements, exhibits, poster making, film showings, Bible quizzes, and the like. While these are helpful, the real challenge for us, Catholics, is to develop a culture of studying the Bible. This demands hard work. The approach may sound too academic, but there is no other way. We cannot make God speak to us richly if we lack the necessary tools to comprehend.
We develop confidence in dealing with the biblical texts by studying their historical backgrounds. In this way, we will avoid making tendentious and erroneous interpretations. We differ from fundamentalist Christian groups who abhor the critical approach. They make all kinds of conclusions, to the point of attacking us, Catholics.
Everyone should be reminded of this dictum, “Text without context is pretext.” We will never see the light if we do not respect the nature of the text, the intention of the author, and the context of the reader. In addition, our churches will be damned and doomed to live in darkness, if our priests, religious, and catechists do not have the passion and sustained interest to teach the Bible.
Jesus has a passion for the Word of God. His priority is preaching. Healings come after. In the Gospel, Jesus preaches, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew interprets this as the fulfillment of the prophecy in the First Reading: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” The light is Jesus, passionately proclaiming the Word of God, and the people once in darkness are now passionately listening to this rabbi from Galilee. His fellow rabbis teach that the most sacred activity is not worship or charity work, but the study of the Torah. They have a passion for the Word of God. How can they keep God’s Word if they do not know it?
Let us also learn from the Psalmist, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked… the law of the Lord is his joy; and on his law he meditates day and night” (Ps 1:1-2). If we have a passion for the Word of God, we will surely see the light, and our nation will become great.
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2017,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.