This is the fourth and final week of a series entitled, “a light shines.” We have been looking at Jesus the light of the world, a light that shines and the darkness cannot overcome. We have seen Jesus is a presence in the world and through him a light is shining that brightens all who come to him.
The Christmas season has concluded and the story of Jesus moves to his public ministry. It begins with his Baptism by John. Jesus had a public ministry that lasted three years, with three trips to Jerusalem for the Passover as documented in John’s gospel. Jesus taught, healed and lived an example that he hopes we will follow. In fact it is the words he used when those first disciples after his Baptism see him and ask where he lives, “Come and see.” (John 1:39) Following Jesus in life makes life better and it makes you better at life. Jesus is the light, we should follow the light.
The readings from three weeks ago centered on light, it is a light that draws the magi to the new king, it is light that restores radiance to Jerusalem and attracts pilgrims and visitors, it is the light that Paul speaks about to communities as one selected to announce the gospel message of light. Light is needed to see and we see it brings life. But, the light came as a person, one who will share a message of love, a light who is the shepherd of all people, a shepherd who cares for his sheep, who thinks all people are his sheep and he will do everything to keep his sheep. The week focused on the coming of light who is the shepherd of Israel.
Two weeks ago we read that the chosen of God is coming as a servant. God has selected a chosen people to tell us of the light to come, Jesus selected leaders to expand the light to all people, showing no partiality and letting all people know they are beloved. God also proclaims his Son is the beloved, who pleases God. This beloved Son calls us to be like him and we become beloved and adopted son and daughters.
Last week we focused on Jesus as Son of God. The gospel message speaks of John the Baptist proclaiming Jesus is the Son of God as he was called to proclaim. The first reading addressed a servant, chosen to bring salvation, while the second reading spoke of a call, that we are all called ultimately by the Son of God to be a reflection of the light that shines. Jesus, Son of God is that light, bright as the sun with clothes dazzling white. If we are near him we will reflect his light.
The readings this week point us to the message a light has arisen. We have been looking at a light that shines over these four weeks and this week the messages all point to this light. We see there will be a great light who will restore the people of Israelas we reading in the prophet Isaiah. Paul points us back to Christ who is the light on the cross. While Matthew in the gospel talks about Jesus beginning ministry, the light that has arisen to push through the darkness. The light has arisen is a double message really, we see the light at Jesus birth and then it has arisen again at his resurrection. Once God creates light it cannot be hidden.The light has arisen is a double message really, we see the light at Jesus birth and then it has arisen again at his resurrection. Once God creates light it cannot be hidden. Click To Tweet
The readings this week are from the Lectionary for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time; Isaiah 8:23- 9:3; Psalms 27:1, 4, 13-14; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17 and Matthew 4:12-23. This week we see the message a light has arisen. This light is Jesus who came to make us children of the light so we too can be light that has arisen.
The reading from Isaiah speaks of land that was taken from the Jews by the Assyrians in the eight century. The residents of this territory were the first Israelites in biblical history to be hauled off into exile. According to the policies of Assyria this meant the most influential and educated of Israel were deported and made servants elsewhere, while much of the pheasant population was left behind in the land. It is a painful memory from Israel’s past that stands as a dark time and death that Isaiah is prophesizing. The passage goes on to promise better times, a time when the territory might be reincorporated along with the northern territories into Judah and thus restore the boundaries of the country as it was under King David. There is a relationship with the Immanuel prophecy of Isaiah (7:1-17) as it is the child of King Ahaz, King Hezekiah, who is a pious man and trust in the Lord, who would lead the reconquering of the land. Of course we see a Messianic prophecy, as Isaiah speaks of people who are in darkness seeing a great light. In fact this is the prophecy Matthew uses in verses 4:16-17 when he writes about Jesus beginning his public ministry. The lands that in the prophet’s time were laid waste and saw ethnic cleansing and transplantation were the first to receive the light of salvation from the Messiah. There will be abundant joy, great rejoicing for the yoke of burden has been destroyed and the people saved by the light that shines, the light that arises.
In the second reading from Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians, he is urging them to be united, to be of one mind and one purpose. There is division in the community; groups saying they belong to different teachers, Paul, Apollos, Cephas and Christ. But Paul stresses all preachers are pointing to Christ, the cross is Christ bringing light for all people. People sometimes can get excited by the people speaking the message and miss the message. It is Christ who is the light, the light arisen in darkness and it is in Christ we all should remain united. Paul says the cross is empty if we don’t follow Christ, no other teacher can do or has done what Christ has done.But Paul stresses all preachers are pointing to Christ, the cross is Christ bringing light for all people. It is Christ who is the light, the light arisen in darkness and it is in Christ we all should remain united. Click To Tweet
In the gospel Matthew writes about the beginning of Jesus public ministry and preaching. He begins in the land of Galilee, a land with Gentiles and Jews, a land that had been the first to lose residents through deportations and ethnic cleansing by the Assyrians. Matthew makes the point that those who were lost first are the first given the chance to be restored through the salvation that Jesus preaches. Jesus begins his message much as his herald John the Baptist preached, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The passage goes on to describe the call of the first apostles, Peter, Andrew, James, and John, Jesus calling them to be fishers of men. We see again in the passage quoted from Isaiah that a great light is arisen. The first Israelites to experience the darkness of conquest and exile will be the first to see the light of God’s goodness in the Messiah. All people will be given a chance for renewal and restoration. All people who are in darkness will see a great light, anyone overshadowed by death will see a light has arisen. This light of course is Jesus, his message of salvation and the love he will demonstrate through his life, death and resurrection.
Light has arisen
The message this week, a light has arisen, brings us back to the Magi and their following a light that leads them to the baby Jesus, the King, the Messiah. But light goes back even further, we read in Genesis the beginning began with light. “God said: Let there be light, and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3) Light is critical to our life. It is a starting point, for life needs light. We need light to live but we really need light to have life in abundance. God saw the light and it was good and God separated the light from the darkness. God made light; where we can see and darkness; where we cannot see. So it is no wonder Jesus is the light, he says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?” (Psalms 27:1) God is the ultimate source of illumination, and we even have God as spiritual light. When we first follow Jesus a little light shows, a small amount of knowledge and growth. Gradually a wellspring starts to flow like a light of a lamp which starts in the dark, it is limited as it starts but becomes brighter and brighter. This is the light of Jesus arising in us. The closer we come to Jesus the brighter is our light and salvation. We have nothing to fear with light. Our enemies will stumble and fall. With the Lord we will always be able to show who we are and have courage and eventually we realize, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.” (Psalms 119:105) We ascend to God through the divine word, God lighting our way is the path to full illumination in God, it is the light to the way.
Jesus speaking to his disciples says he is troubled because his hour is coming, it is an hour of triumph and glory. While speaking, “Jesus said to them, ‘The light will be among you only a little while. Walk while you have the light, so that darkness may not overcome you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light.’” (John 12:35-36) This is Jesus ultimate message that we be in the light so we may be children of the light. Jesus is a Son and the light. Jesys is giving believers a share in his own divine life and relationship with the Father as children. By sharing in the Son’s own life, believers share in the communion with the Father. With faith, looking toward the light we become children of the light, children of God Most High.By sharing in the Son’s own life, believers share in the communion with the Father. With faith, looking toward the light we become children of the light, children of God Most High. Click To Tweet
We learn once we follow the light we become light. Jesus tells us, “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14) As the light in us becomes brighter and brighter we naturally desire to shine our light, the light of Christ, for all to see. We become the light in the world. The light will never become dark as long as believers like us are that light. We are children of light to light the way for others. Jesus tells us, “… your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:16)
Jesus, a light shines
We have seen through these four weeks Jesus is the shepherd of Israel, beloved Son, Son of God and the light that has arisen. The many views of Jesus help us have faith so we may become a light that shines. As a shepherd Jesus is loving and compassionate, he is a shepherd we trust and a shepherd we need to give us courage and security. As Jesus is our shepherd we are called to let others know they can trust us as shepherds, and we should be trust worthy shepherds like Jesus.
Jesus was called a beloved Son of God by God at the beginning of his public ministry, during his baptism. Jesus’ belovedness comes because God call him beloved. He did not do anything to prove to God he was beloved, God declares him beloved. We too are declared beloved by God, told we are beloved and God is well pleased. We don’t have to prove worthiness to God, not that we could if we tried, we are completely worthy because God declares us beloved. We must share our belovedness so others hear when God calls out to them that they are bleoved.We must share our belovedness so others hear when God calls out to them that they are bleoved. Click To Tweet
Jesus is the Son of God. We hear over and over that Jesus is God’s son. The true Father of Jesus is God. But Jesus also teaches that he became man so that we can become like him, we can become gods. We too are children of God and God’s son or daughter. Jesus came to show us that to be a son or daughter of God is to believe and demonstrate our faith in the Father. God is our creator and we only need to accept God to know we are a son or daughter of God.
Jesus is the light that has arisen. God wants all to be known and all to be seen. So sending his Son into the world God sends the light, a light that illuminates and grows until all can be see and known. God knows the world is better when all is in the light, darkness and secrets only work to destroy trust and love. So sending his Son, God has sent the light that will brighten the word of God through eternity. We are able to follow this light and we too become brighter and brighter, leading the way to God. A light has risen and that light shines on us so we too become light. Light everywhere is how we see God, who is everywhere.So sending his Son, God has sent the light that will brighten the word of God through eternity. We are able to follow this light and we too become brighter and brighter, leading the way to God. Click To Tweet