20 Jan Monday
Sunday, Ordinary Time 3 A
The Gospel this coming Sunday has four parts: the rationale of Jesus’ withdrawal to Galilee, Jesus’ core message, Jesus’ calling of Peter, Andrew, James and John, and a final verse about Jesus’ ministry in Galilee.
The references to the ancient tribal territories of Zebulon and Naphtali seem a bit obscure. Perhaps the point is that Jesus’ work in these two northern most areas foretell Jesus’ command to go the Gentiles. Living closest to and among the Gentiles, these two lands were seen as at risk to lose their Jewish religion. The prophet Isaiah’s description of their culture is not pretty; they are at the way to the sea, a poetic way referencing their access to the rest of the world and all its lures, a land overshadowed by death, poetically speaking again of the dying to one’s faith.
The passage also reflects the extent of Jesus’ northern ministry. Then suddenly Jesus’ simplified message is added to show what Jesus did, then suddenly he is on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in Capernaum. Jesus got around. The last verse in this passage picks this up again after the call of the sons of Simon and Zebedee; Jesus’ travels through “all of Galilee”. Jesus message is universal, not just meant for some elite privileged core group of the righteous. How does this narrative match up with the modern North American Catholic Church today?