The Pastor’s Thoughts — January 22, 2023, 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 23, 2023 |

“Jesus moved to Capernaum, fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy.”

Last week, Isaiah prophesied, “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Today, Isaiah prophesizes, “First the Lord degraded the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the end he has glorified the seaward road, the land west of the Jordan, the District of the Gentiles.” Zebulun and Naphtali are in Galilee, in the region near Capernaum.

Jesus had returned from his 40 days fast in the desert and His temptations by Satan, to learn of John the Baptist’s arrest. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum. In doing so, he fulfilled Isaiah’s prophesy that the “Light to the Nations” would bring God’s salvation to all the earth. The land of Capernaum and Galilee was Gentile territory!

The people of Galilee were outsiders, rebellious to the Romans and to a religion that seem oppressive to them. If you were an up-and-coming Rabbi and were looking for a place to go that would help to establish your reputation as a famed preacher, you would not choose Galilee as a place to get started.

Jesus’ coming to them represents His amazing initiative to those who had never even been considered decent prospects for evangelization. His commitment to the Galilee of the Gentiles stands as a testimony to the fact that for Jesus the outsiders are in, those without clout now have some. In exchange for the domination of Rome and oppressive religious authority, Jesus offers Galileans the peace of God’s Kingdom.

At this crucial moment, when He is beginning His public, full-time ministry, Jesus goes out to these fishermen, Simon, Andrew, James, and John, as they ply their trade on the Sea of Galilee, calls them by name, and invites them to help to Him build up His Kingdom as His disciples. Jesus did not start His mission alone, and He does not continue it alone. Jesus chooses fishermen as His disciples, to become Fishers of Men.

What is Jesus’ message for us, His modern-day disciples, in today’s Gospel? He calls us to a commitment to befriending the outsiders in our midst, both the outsiders around us and the alien feelings within our own hearts. Will this Gospel call to us really work in our lives and the lives of others we meet? Remember, it is from Galilee that Jesus chose His disciples, and we know how it changed their lives and the lives of those to whom they were sent. Now, we are called by Jesus to “go fishing.”

– Bishop Roy Campbell

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