Everything our Lord Jesus Christ ever did or said had a purpose underneath. So, we can say that with his ministry, nothing was said or done for no reason. Today, the Gospel Reading (Matt. 4:12-23) gives us the narrative about the beginning of the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with deep introspective lenses, we could see that all the actions and words used have relevance to his central mission.
Our reflection this Sunday would take us through the main highlights at the inception of our Lord’s ministry, and these would leave us with transforming lessons.
The Power of Location
The Gospel begins by telling us about our Lord’s relocation from Nazareth to the upper northern city of Capernaum by the sea in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This movement fulfills the oracle of the prophet Isaiah which we read in the First Reading (Isaiah 8:23-9:3). The region of Zebulun and Naphtali and in indeed the then Galilee was not the abode of the rich and the learned. Unlike big cities like Jerusalem and Jericho, one would see here the ordinary people, fishermen, and people of low class.
It was God’s plan for the preaching of the Gospel to start with the poor and ordinary people just like the birth of Jesus was first revealed to poor shepherds (Luke 2:8-20). God is always identifying with the lowly and lifting them (Luke 1:52).
The ministry of our Lord thus started from the far north and ended in the south, where he was crucified and died on the cross. Now, there is a need for us to know that for every divine orchestrated activity, there is always a divine location. Put in another way, there is a divine ground for fruitfulness and striving. If we go back to the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis (37,39, 40,41), we will discover that God planed the prosperity of Joseph but it has to take place in Egypt and circumstances took him to Egypt just like the death of John pushed our Lord to withdraw to Galilee from Nazareth.
The Ministry of the Word, Light, and Repentance
In the Gospel of John (1:1-5), we read the following:
In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
If we go further in the Gospel of John (1:14), we shall see where he concludes by saying that “the word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.”
Here we have a testimonial of the person and mission of our Lord Jesus Christ identified as the Word made flesh. From the Gospel outline of the public ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, we understand that he began preaching the word of God which brings the light to dispel the darkness beclouding the people and leading them to repentance.
Note well that our Lord Jesus Christ did not start performing miracles and healing people of their physical sicknesses. He began by preaching to instruct the human soul that has been down with the illness of the soul, which is sin.
With the reign of sin, everything became dark because there was no light; darkness does not exist when there is light. So, those sitting in darkness are those living in sin and who need the light repentance powered by the Word of God. Our Lord Jesus testifies about himself saying, “I am the light of the world anyone who follows me will not walk in darkness” (John 8:12). Walking in darkness means walking in sin but walking in the light means repentance.
To advance the full length of his ministry, our Lord Jesus Christ goes out to the seaside of Galilee to get fishermen who would, in turn, help to fish people into the community of believers through prayers and preaching.
By calling the first four disciples, our Lord Jesus Christ indicates to us that his ministry is collaborative; in other words, it is not the prerogative of just one individual but the action of individuals working together.
Our Lord goes further to demonstrate the importance of collaborative ministry when he sent the twelve apostles out in pairs to the places he was to visit with the mandate to preach and pray over the people (Mark 6:7-3). The same he also did with seventy-two other disciples.
In the apostolic times you, we discover that the apostles excelled using the facility of collaboration. Peter worked with John; Paul worked with Silas, Timothy, Titus, and others. Collaborative ministry reflects the heart of the trinitarian functionality.
Ministry of Healing
Healing is a significant aspect of the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, his missionary portfolio includes the duty of healing. In several places, the Gospels tell us that our Lord Jesus Christ brought healing to many people with different ailments (Mark 6:56).
However, the most significant healing he brought was the healing of our transgressions and sins through his passion and death, “But He was wounded[a] for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him And by His stripes[c] we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5).
There is a need for all of us to open our minds to learn these exceptional lessons from the early ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is especially very instructive for those in ministry to pay attention to a location, not for gain but redemptive value for those in need of God’s liberation. We need to be where God needs us to be not where we want to go.
The Word of God should come first in our ministry, which should be collaborative in the manner of our Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles. It is very fitting that Pope Francis is has instituted this Third Sunday in Ordinary Time of the Year for us to reflect on the power and potency of the word of God in our individual lives and our families.
We encounter God when we read the bible; in fact, one could say that God did hide in the Bible and as much as we read the Bible, we continually discover Him in new and beautiful ways.
Have a blissful Sunday and a blessed week ahead.