“When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry. A sea we must wade. We braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow we do it.
Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.”
Amanda Gorman’s poem, “The Hill We Climb,”
This weekend is Youth Sunday and it is an awesome time to share the Good News with our young people. I will be inviting them to listen and respond to Christ Call to move out of darkness to be proclaimers of light and the Kingdom of God. The scriptures are packed with a great depth of meaning as our Holy Father, Pope Francis calls us the be an Evangelical Church and for our liturgies to evangelize. For those who read our reflections weekly let’s get right to it.
The first thing that may strike you as we hear from the Prophet Isaiah is that familiar Christmas image of light. Immediately, if your like me, when you hear Isaiah 9:3&4
“The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,”
We are drawn to the Midnight Mass and the images of Christmas flood our minds and brings joy to the heart. We here it here and Matthew in his Gospel repeats it. As we looked extensively at the image of light throughout Christmas let’s pause to get a better grasp of the darkness and how it is transformed to light. We hear in the scriptures of the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; and this being a location where people were in darkness, but not only darkness but gloom. So you might ask yourself “Why?”. There are two things that point to the darkness and gloom. First Zebulun and Naphtali were two of the twelve sons of Jacob and who had areas of the land of Israel named after them areas of Israel in the northern province of Galilee by the great Sea of Galilee. These two cities were the first to be decimated during the Assyrian invasion around 722 BC if memory serves me from my study. Thus a land of gloom and secondly the
darkness being that it was pagan or gentile territory. The peoples of the Northern Kingdom were carried off into captivity. As a side note also remember that Samaria, Israel, formed the center of the Northern kingdom, they separated from Judah, Jerusalem, in the South developed their own centers for worship.
Now this is the context of our Gospel today. It is Jesus, whom we heard proclaimed at Epiphany as the light to the nations who calls His disciples from that place of darkness and gloom, Christ transform to light and joy. It is hear that he begins His Ministry and Proclaims that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Matthew places the Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven to full the Prophet Isaiah 9.
From what was once darkness and gloom light night only shines forth but true hope is proclaimed for “All” people. This is the third piece for us this week. We too are a people, a nation and a world shrouded in darkness. We live in the darkness of the shadow of death as we recall the death of so many due to the previous Roe vs Wade decision that legalized abortion. But now we’ve got more work today to change the plight of the poor who struggle to care for their children post natal needs. We are living in the darkness of lies and deceit when the plight and history of a people is seen as to offensive for our children to hear about, yet those in the nation want to glorify the history of the confederacy that sought to perpetuate slavery, subjugation. Thank God the light of truth is allowed to shine bright as I teach critical race reality to our high school students in Catholic school. We live in a culture of death where lies and deceit are the norm and women and men who are good, honest genuine and persons of integrity are afraid to lead and serve because there are those who prefer lies and dishonesty to truth and decency.
Amanda Gorman reminds us that we aught to see and be the light. Our very Baptism calls us to be bearers of the light of peace and truth that is Christ. To see, speak out and confront the darkness in our midst. To let our little light shine. We are being called to proclaim and to shine light out of the darkness of our society and our world. Jesus called His first disciples he now calls us to be fishers of people, to call others to a relationship with Christ.
As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.
Let go and catch people for Christ!