1 John 3:22 - 4:6 / Matthew 4: 12-17, 23-25
Do not trust every spirit: Test each spirit to see if it is of God.
In May 1981, a man was accused of killing eight prostitutes. He said he was acting on orders from God. About a month later Mark Chapman, the killer of John Lennon, said God told him to drop his defense and plead guilty to the slaying.
These are just two examples of people who claim they have been told by God to do certain things. If John were here today, he would remind them of what he wrote in today’s reading: “Do not believe all who claim to have the Spirit, but test them to find out if the spirit they have comes from God.”
Have we ever felt called by God to do something? Did we “test the spirit” by seeking the counsel of our pastor or some other spiritual person? “No prophetic message ever came just from the will of man, but men were under the control of the Holy Spirit as they spoke the message that came from God.” 2 Peter 12:
There was a long-running medical drama series on tv called E.R. It presents the life of doctors and patients in the emergency room. It is not just about the work and the personal lives of the doctors but also the anguish and misery of patients in the hospital. For eg, an old lady with an ECG monitor, a man in oxygen mask, a young mother grieving over the death of her child, etc. The underlying question of the patients and their loved ones seemed to be this: Why is this happening to me? What is happening to my loved one?
This is also the same question that we will ask when we ourselves become ill or when our loved ones become seriously ill.
On this Monday after Epiphany, the gospel proclaims to us that in Jesus, we see God our healer.
But physical illness and suffering can be alleviated by medicine. A greater suffering is the suffering of the heart, an emotional and a spiritual kind of suffering.
That kind of suffering and pain can only be addressed with the healing that Jesus came to bring.
The prophecy of Isaiah gives us an idea of what is this kind of healing when it says: The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light; on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death, a light has dawned.
In other words, Jesus the true Light shines on us to heal our broken and hurting hearts so that we can get up and walk in the light of love.
The healing light of Christ continues to shine in the Sacraments of the Eucharist, Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick. It continues to shine when we pray for others in their distress
Let us open our hearts with confidence in the light that God our Healer wants to give us, and let us be witnesses of His healing love for us.
Monday After Epiphany
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS NEAR
Introduction: The gospel of today speaks of the beginnings of Jesus’ ministry. He preaches his gospel of repentance-conversion first to the semi-pagan Jews of Galilee: he becomes their light. The signs that the kingdom of God has begun with him are that the sick are cured, that he goes to the poor and the suffering. John says in the first reading that our love of neighbor and our obedience to the commandments will also be signs that the kingdom has come among us.
Opening Prayer: Lord our God, your kingdom began to take shape when your Son showed his care for the sick and for all those who suffer. Help us to love people and to care for them, especially for the poor, the dispossessed, and the misfits of life. Let this be the sign that his Spirit is working in us and that your Son is present among us, he who is our Lord for ever.
Commentary: Up to this point in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ time has been largely spent in Judea, with the emphasis falling on his Davidic credentials (Bethlehem). It is in the northern region of Galilee (Capernaum) that his ministry begins. The author employs the words of Isaiah addressed centuries before to the two northern tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. In the early part of the first millennium BC, these two tribes were overrun by Assyrian forces and were largely decimated. When Isaiah spoke of the new era to come, he spoke consolingly to these two tribes and assured them of a brighter future. For Matthew, that time has arrived with the coming of Jesus. Jesus’ first preaching tour takes him through much of Galilee. While he is involved in preaching and teaching, the major emphasis here falls on his healing ministry. People with a variety of illnesses were brought to him. Jesus performs his wonders with a great deal of solicitude for people racked with pain. This inevitably attracts a large amount of attention, but Jesus’ intention is clearly to bring help to those in need. It is aptly said that a Christian is never more so than when he or she is assisting others. There are many people who do not believe that they have the strength to cope with another day. How meaningful it is for us to be present to them. Such acts of charity have immeasurable consequences. The letter of John reminds us again today that to deny that Jesus Christ came in the flesh is to separate ourselves from God. This is but to say that there are certain truths of our faith that are immutable. The incarnation is one of them. Jesus was not merely a good man. Nor did he simply seem to be a man. As John states, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us” John 1:14). This is the central belief of our faith.
Points to Ponder:
The reality of the incarnation
Healing the broken-hearted
With faith, light has arisen.
- That the people of God may be in this world like a great light shining in the darkness, as men and women committed to a better world of compassion and mercy, we pray: – That the leaders of the world may bring rays of hope into the lives of those who suffer by giving justice to the oppressed and human dignity to every person, we pray: – That those who search and grope in life may discover Christ as the answer to their quest for love, goodness and truth, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts: Lord our God, the bread and wine on this table express that we are ready to let your kingdom grow among us. Give us the Spirit of your Son to share our possessions and ourselves with the less fortunate, not in a spirit of condescension but as your people, to whom every poor person appears with the face of Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord for ever.
Prayer after Communion: Lord our God, let the gospel of your Son Jesus Christ bear fruit among us, ordinary people. Let your Son be the light that brightens our lives and do not allow us to hide its luster from the people around us. May they recognize him in the simplicity of our love and in our care for one another, that with our help he may be seen and experienced in this world as our Lord for ever.
Blessing: Jesus commanded us to love one another and he himself was our model by healing those who were sick and in pain. May we continue his work, with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.