A LIGHT TO THOSE IN DARKNESS
Isaiah 8:23—9:3; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17; Matthew 4:12-23
Mother Teresa visited a man who lived alone. His room was dark and dirty. She started cleaning the room. The man gruffly asked her to leave it as it was. She kept cleaning. Under a pile of rubbish, she found a dirty oil lamp. She asked: “How come you never light this lamp?” He replied: “Why should I light it? No one ever comes to see me. I never see anybody.” “Will you light it if one of my sisters comes to see you?” “If I hear a human voice, I’ll light the lamp.”
Two sisters began visiting him. His situation and he gradually improved. Then one day he told them: “Sisters, I’ll manage on my own from now. But do me a favour. Tell that first sister who came to see me that the light she lit in my life is still burning.”
What Mother Teresa did for that poor man (and countless others) was to continue the mission of Jesus: to bring light to “the people who sit in darkness”.
The gospel announces the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. It is significant that Jesus begins his ministry in Galilee. For Matthew, this is the fulfilment of Isaiah’s oracle (First Reading) concerning the Messiah: the darkness of Galilee’s Assyrian captivity will end and the “great light” of their deliverance will appear.
Further, Galilee was home to Jewish immigrants who, for centuries, were surrounded and influenced by Gentiles. The people of the southern kingdom of Judah looked down on them. Jesus, himself an immigrant, begins his ministry among these outcasts, the “lost sheep of the house of Israel”.
Jesus’ mission is to proclaim and establish the kingdom of God: a state of love, justice, and peace; a reversal of darkness and oppression of every kind. He does this by teaching and healing people, by calling them to “repent” and to follow him.
The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light – that is today’s good news. But our reality is that we still live in darkness; we still face isolation and oppression.
The Lord, who called Simon and Andrew, James and John, calls us to follow him to continue his mission to bring light to “the people who sit in darkness”.
Who are the people who sit in darkness in my life? And how will I bring light to them? Will I leave my “boat” and “nets” (my securities, my old value system) to follow him?
May we who “have seen a great light” allow this light to remove all darkness from our lives.
By: Fr Dr Mascarenhas Vinod SDB