Above: Cloud in Sunlight
A Little Bit of Light Makes a Big Difference
JANUARY 26, 2014
JANUARY 22, 2017
Isaiah 9:1-4 (New Revised Standard Version):
But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
The people who have walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness–
on them light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation,
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
Psalm 27:1, 4-9 (New Revised Standard Version):
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
One thing I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the LORD,
and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will set me high on a rock.
Now my head is lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud,
be gracious to me and answer me!
“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, do I seek.
Do not hide your face from me.
Do not turn your servant away in anger,
you who have been my help.
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
1 Corinthians 1:10-18 (New Revised Standard Version):
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says,
I belong to Paul,
I belong to Apollos,
I belong to Cephas,
I belong to Christ.
Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Matthew 4:12-23 (New Revised Standard Version):
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
Land of Zebulon, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles–
the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.
From that time Jesus began to proclaim,
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea– for they were fishermen. And he said to them,
Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.
Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.
Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The central theme in the Sundays after the Epiphany is the spread of the Christian message to the Gentiles. This reminds us that message of Jesus is for all people, that God seeks to draw all people around the heavenly throne. St. Peter came to understand this lesson, that God shows no partiality, but that all who follow God please God, regardless of who they are or from where they come.
You, O reader, might notice that the readings for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany fit neatly with those for the Second Sunday. This demonstrates the beauty and utility of a lectionary. Thus my next remarks fit well with those for the previous Sunday.
Everyone has a calling from God to be a positive influence and a light. The nature of light in darkness is such that even a little light makes a great difference; it can be the difference between standing in the pitch dark and having one’s bearings, knowing where one is and identifying the route one needs to take. This light is for the common good, as are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. So to use the light for selfish, self-aggrandizing ends is sinful and destructive to the faith community. Actually, the faith community is at its peak when it permits everyone’s light to shine to its full potential. Human divisions–such as politics, economics, gender, race, and ethnicity–are irrelevant to the potential of one’s light from God.