THEME: THE WORD OF GOD: LIGHT OF THE WORLD
READINGS: Isaiah 9:1-4 / 1 Cor. 1:10-13, 17 / Matt. 4:12-23
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today is the Sunday of the Word of God, while the readings remind us that Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. Let us, therefore, reflect on the theme: “The Word of God: Light of the World”.
- WHAT IS THE WORD OF GOD?
Firstly, human words could be statements or declarations which reveal the intention, wish or command of the speaker. Similarly, the Word of God reveals His intention, will, plan, command, etc.
Secondly, God’s Word is absolutely powerful and creative. His Word accomplishes what He declares. For instance, in the beginning, He declared, “Let there be light” and light appeared without fail (Gen. 1:3).
Thirdly, the Word of God is not only powerful, it is also redemptive. In other words, God’s Word saves the world. Thus, Scripture testifies to the fact that to save the world, the Word of God became flesh and lived among us (cf. John 1:1-3,14-16; 3:16).
Fourthly, God spoke His Word through His prophets (e.g., Jonah 3:1). Then, in the fullness of time, Jesus Christ, the Son of God who is also the eternal Word of God, speaks to us (cf. John 1:1-3; Heb. 1:1-4).
Fifthly, the Word of God, which was initially passed on from generation to generation by the prophets and other servants of God, was eventually written down as the Old Testament. Similarly, the Word of God, which was initially proclaimed by Jesus Christ and passed on by His disciples as well as the teachings of His disciples, were eventually written down as the New Testament. These two Testaments form one unit called the Holy Bible or Scriptures or the Word of God.
- THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD AS LIGHT
The Psalmist says to God: “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). This means, in the first place, that as a light clears our path, so God’s Word guides us along the path of salvation. Let us, therefore, often read, meditate and pray with the Bible, so that we may constantly enjoy God’s guidance in life.
Secondly, as light (e.g., the red traffic light) serves as a warning, so God’s Word warns us against sins and evil. Therefore, as we read God’s Word, let us heed His warnings against sin and evil.
Thirdly, as light is a sign of purity, so God’s Word is holy. Let us, therefore, revere the Bible as truly holy. Let us handle it with true reverence.
Fourthly, as the presence of light (after a period of darkness) brings joy, so God’s Word rejoices our souls: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103). Let us, therefore, always cherish and desire God’s holy Word above all other treasures!
- JESUS, THE WORD OF GOD, AS THE LIGHT
Today’s first reading mentions the twin towns of Zebulun and Naphtali (cf. Isaiah 9:1-4). These towns were within the then Northern Kingdom of Israel. At the time the prophet Isaiah spoke, the Northern Kingdom had been conquered by the Assyrians. Literally, then, the people of Zebulun and Naphtali were in darkness. It was in that situation of darkness that the prophet Isaiah proclaimed a message of hope: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). In other words, the people of Zebulun and Naphtali who were experiencing the darkness of defeat would one day experience the light of God’s liberation.
Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God (cf. John 1:1-2, 14), is the Light of the world (cf. John 1:4-9; 8:12; 9:5). Thus, when Jesus appeared in the twin towns of Zebulun and Naphtali, St. Matthew rightly saw it as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah. Hence, he wrote: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali… the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light” (Matt. 4:15-16).
The four characteristics of the written Word of God also apply to Jesus as the Light of the World. Firstly, as the Light of the World, Jesus is our Supreme Guide along the path of salvation. Indeed, without Him, no one can be saved. Let us, therefore, always seek His guidance in prayer, reading of Scriptures and meditation.
Secondly, as the Light of the World, Jesus warns us against sin and evil. Thus, according to today’s gospel reading, Jesus summons us to turn away from sin: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt. 4:17). Let us, therefore, turn away from our sins.
Thirdly, the description of Jesus as the Light of the World should remind us of His sublime holiness (cf. 1 John 1:1:5). It is in Him and through Him that we experience the holiness of God. Therefore, we cannot associate with Jesus without desiring to be holy and making use of God’s grace to remain holy.
Fourthly, as Light, Jesus brings joy to the World. Thus, even at His birth, the angel announced to the shepherds the good news of great joy to the world (cf. Luke 2:9-11). Indeed, it is only in Jesus that we have full and lasting joy (cf. John 15:11). Let us, therefore, be obedient to Him by following His commandments (cf. John 15:9-12).
As we always cherish, read, meditate and pray with the Holy Bible, may the grace of God bring us ever closer to Jesus. May He then guide us always, turn us away from sin, deliver us from evil, sustain us in holiness and complete our joy for all eternity! Amen!
By Fr. John K. Louis