In today’s liturgical celebration, Mathew the Evangelist who will accompany us throughout this liturgical year, presents the beginning of Messiah’s ministry. This takes place as a result of the violent interruption of John’s renewal campaign. Jesus begins his ministry in Galilee of the Gentiles to fulfil Isaiah’s prophesy in today’s first reading where Isaiah foretells about the Lord’s coming using the image of light. Isaiah goes on to describe how the Lord will guide his people from darkness and bring them into joy.
Then, Jesus who has began his ministry of preaching, calls and gathers a small group of followers. He invites them to be his disciples and like John he begins by appealing for repentance. Again, Jesus’ ministry consisted essentially in preaching the kingdom of God and healing the sick, showing that this kingdom is close at hand and already in our midst.
In his time, the term “gospel” was used by the Roman emperors for their proclamations. Independently of their content, they were described as “good news” or announcements of salvation, because the emperor was considered lord of the world and every edict as a portent of good. Therefore, the application of this term in Jesus’ preaching had a strongly critical meaning, as if to say God and not the emperor, is Lord of the world, and the true Gospel is that of Jesus Christ. The “Good News” that Jesus proclaims is summed up in this sentence: “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” This means that it is God who reigns, he is Lord and his lordship is present and actual.
Like he called his first disciples from their natural world, he is calling us also from our natural world to proclaim the Good News.
Listening to the psalmist who is encouraging us to be hopeful in the Lord who is our light and to Saint Paul who is calling for unity that can be brought about by the Gospel he proclaims, let us go forth proclaiming that Christ is one and cannot be divided.
Joy and Peace.