Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Readings: Isaiah 8:23-9:3, Psalm 27:1,4, 13-14, 1Corinthians 1:10-13.17, Mathew 4:1223

Christ, the light that restores our hope

Dear friends, today we celebrate the third Sunday in ordinary time, it is also for us our parish youth day. So we remember the youth, and we pray with them and for them during this day. The life of a youth is full of dreams, full of energy and full of enthusiasm. However, without Christ the light, their dreams, energy and enthusiasm may lead to destructive rather than constructive tendencies. We thus dedicate this day to pray for the youth that they may have the courage to follow Christ and to entrust their lives to him, that Christ may be present in their energies and dreams.

The youth, like the disciples of Christ, are called to abandon their preoccupations in order to follow Christ. They are called to trust and obey the call of Christ without doubts but with hearts open to embrace his will. For this to be possible, the existential conditions surrounding the life of the youth must facilitate and make it possible for them to hear the voice of Christ. However, the youth of today live in a society that in a way suffocates and blinds their vision of Christ with too many false voices, too many false visions and perspectives. That is why we have chosen as the theme for our parish youth day the words of Christ in the gospel of Mathew 11:58 “Come to me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest”.  The invitation is to return to Christ in order to find the comfort and the solace, the joy and the peace that the youth today are seeking. This can only come from Christ not from the sensual allurements that the world seduces the youth with today.

Today's first reading brings to us the hope of restoration. Those who walked in darkness and the shadow of death have seen the light. These words are a fulfilment of the advent proclamations for the coming of the Messiah. And indeed the hope of newness of life has dawned on those living in oppression, exploitation and in pain. Like in the harvest season, their joy has increased, the yoke that was heavy upon them has been broken, and even the rod of the oppressor has been eliminated. Dear friends, the hope that the prophet Isaiah offers is not pseudo, but a real hope that is brought to fulfilment in Jesus Christ. When we imagine and figure out ourselves in our day-to-day living, most of us will have experiences so terrifying, like those who are truly in the shadow of death. But the Christ who sustains and brings to fulfilment his plans in us is present to lead us and support us through such moments.

From the restored hope to unity

The grates threat to most communities of believers is disunity. It is not Christian; it is anti-Christ. Paul exhorts the community of the Corinthians to watch out against factions among themselves. They must strive for perfect unity. It is not about belonging to Paul, or Apollos. It is about belonging to Christ. Even in our times, we tend to divide people, we tend to have inclinations even among the shepherds whom God gives to us as priests. We do this by following their qualities and often judging and criticizing them. To such attitudes, Paul reminds us still that we should not split up Christ because all are baptized in him. The reason for our unity is Christ and not his messengers. Human wisdom of language and wise words make the cross of Christ pointless. Let us follow Christ and be united in him. Let us avoid factions. There may be differences, but let those differences be the reason for our unity.

It is not a surprise that as Jesus begins his public ministry, the first proclamation he made was the call to repentance. Repentance means conversion, change of mentality, and metanoia. This change is very urgent for everyone who chooses to respond to the call of Christ. The disciples called by him in today's gospel are a perfect representation of this. They were willing to embrace a new life, they were willing to renounce their past paths in order to follow a new path with promptness and eagerness. That’s how the call to repentance and conversion should be.

The risks to discipleship

When Christ calls us, he does not look at our past. He does not ask for our CVs, he does not ask for personal identification. His invitation to follow him is open to all. He wants just those who can trust him and are ready to leave their comfort zones for a noble cause. The fishermen who later became fishers of men left their job securities to adventure into an unknown destination without fear. They did not even ask who Christ was and why he was calling them, where they were going and so on. They just abandoned their nets, their bat, and their father and followed him. The nets, the boat and the father represent those things that would in a way become an impediment. It could be the work, or the daily, human passions that could be an obstacle to following Christ. We are all called not to let our attachments become an obstacle for us to following Christ. Discipleship is the journey of those who trust and who are courageous in making a new and life-transforming experience with Christ. Surely t is not for the faint heart or for those who want an easy-flowing life. Just as the light of Christ restored those who were in darkness and the shadow of death, so also his call brings passion and enthusiasm to those who listen to it. Follow him today, abandon yourself to him and let him be the master and the guide in your life. Amen


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