Sunday, January 22, 2017

“We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires.”

Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church is often labeled today as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and swept along by every wind of teaching, look like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards. - Pope Benedict XVI

Gospel Text: (MT 4:12-23)
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.

Today is the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of abortion. This year the liturgical commemoration of a “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children” is transferred to tomorrow because of the anniversary falling on a Sunday. Nonetheless, it’s still fitting for petitions, hymns, and homilies today to focus on how to respond prayerfully to this national horror.

The first verse of today’s Gospel passage sets the stage. Jesus withdrew when He heard that John had been arrested. Jesus knew that John’s life would soon end by beheading. But it wouldn’t require divine insight to see the reason for John’s arrest and martyrdom. John was jailed and executed by civil authorities for his steadfast witness to Truth. He wasn’t willing to be silent. He wasn’t willing to pretend that civil authority’s abuse of moral truth is either justified or without serious consequences for society.

Jesus withdraws from one stage only to assume a larger role on a different one. It was at this time that Jesus began to cry: “‘Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.’” It might sound from this that Jesus is merely picking up where His cousin left off. John the Baptist’s preaching was all about repentance. But for Jesus, repentance is only the opening act of a larger drama.

One of many virtues of using a hand missal or missalette—both during Holy Mass and in preparation for its celebration—is that you can notice significant turning points in the Gospel narrative. The Gospel passage for today is a case in point. It has longer and shorter forms. Both begin at the same point in the fourth chapter of Matthew. But the shorter form ends with Jesus’ cry: “‘Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.’”

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