Capernaum, a small fishing village on the northern shores of Galilee, becomes the central location for Jesus’ ministry before his journey to Jerusalem. Far from the the temple, and all its theological and social politics, Jesus works among the people. Capernaum is close to the Decapolis, the Hellenized north east. Religious politics are different in this northern region; for one thing the exposure to Hellenzation is a daily feature of life. This proximity allows Jesus’ ministry to take on a broader scope than mere attention to his own Jewish people. The opening verse serves as a grand notice of this ministry, supported by the quote from Isaiah, validating Jesus’ approach. d

His preaching is reduced here to a single word with its rationalization. “Repent.” “Μετανοιετε.” One ought to do this because the kingdom of heaven is at hand, although “drawn neat” is more precise. The kingdom of heaven is a time when the fullness of God’s dominion manifests itself in reality; that it “draws near” indicates that it is perceptible to those tuned in and has a characteristic of immediacy. Metanoia is more in the linguistic range of conversion that repentance, both a part of a larger and longer process toward full discipleship.

This miniature an dcondensed proclamation, the calling of the disciples, the location in Galilee are all a set up for the gathering of crowds for the great Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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