Third Sunday after Epiphany

& archive, Year A.

Season of Epiphany:  Week Three

This side of Eden we are restless, seeking, hoping for something to satisfy us. If we are honest we admit that what we produce, and what we accumulate does bring some measure of satisfaction – but on a deeper level we seek for something more. Even within the church persons are saying, “We want to go deeper.”  “Isn’t there something more?” The psalmist gives voice to this seeking, this longing (Psalm 27:4,7-10).

Even as we are looking for this deeper satisfaction—on a soul level—God comes to us. God comes looking for us. Not content to stay in the heavenly realm, looking from afar as we seek whatever it is to quench a deep, inner thirst, God shows up among us, in Jesus. In the Gospel narratives our lectionary guide takes us now to Capernaum, a fishing town nestled on the north reach of the Sea of Galilee. This is where Jesus settles and forms a hub for his work of coming to find us.

As you read Matthew 4:12-23 this week, I invite you to sit alongside this gospel writer and to notice how people are seen and described in this passage. Reflect on the state we are in, and then notice how this coming of Jesus is described.

This ‘great light’, this ‘dawning’ of a new day in God’s kingdom calendar, is described as ‘heaven coming near.’ What does this ‘great light’ look like? This ‘dawning’ of a new day, this ‘heaven coming near’—for those of us who are stuck in the darkness of the night of this world’s system, and who suffer the shadow of death this side of Eden?

Jesus now becomes the ‘voice’ in our wilderness, he shows up on the  beach of our life — coming close and inviting us to turn our attention towards him, and to what he is offering: ‘heaven coming near.’ We may wonder what this has to do with going deeper, wanting something more, that deep inner, soul-level satisfaction. If we are looking for an immediate answer, we are given instead an invitation by Jesus: “Follow me . . .”

When Jesus calls us to follow him we are already beginning to turn from what and who we have been following. We all listen and give our lives and our love to something or somebody. Now Jesus is saying, “Listen to me, give your life and your love to me.”

It is in this turning and listening, this following and loving that the ‘good news’ of the gracious rule of God begins to break into the deep, inner regions of our being, shedding the light of God’s new day, transforming how we see, how we hear, how we live in the world—curing the disease and breaking the yoke and oppression of addiction to a multitude of things which can never satisfy Isaiah 9:1-4), and healing the painful sickness of being alienated from God, from the God-breathed center of who we are, from others, and from creation (I Corinthians 1:10-18).

The gospel writer calls us to enter into this great life adventure of noticing this Jesus who takes up residence on the shore of our life, and calls us to follow him. Matthew’s gospel will be our GPS as we listen and follow. This following, this listening, this new loving will change us. Jesus says, “I will make you . . .” No longer will we be “self-made” individuals, or “system-conformed” collectives. We will be transformed as Jesus reveals the beauty and wonder of God and God’s gracious new thing, and as we learn to wait for, and gaze on God (Psalm 27:4,13,14).

Prayer before reading:

Lord Jesus Christ,
You come to us.
Help me to see as you see,
To recognize your presence,
And your call
To follow you.
Guide me, us as I learn to walk in your way.

Read slowly. Listen deeply. Indwell the scripture.

Scripture Guide:

Season of Epiphany: Week Three

  • 1/17      Monday:  Matthew 4:12-17
  • 1/18      Tuesday:  Matthew 4:13-23
  • 1/19      Wednesday:  Psalm 27
  • 1/20      Thursday:  Isaiah 9:1-4
  • 1/21      Friday:  I Corinthians 1:10-18
  • 1/22      Saturday:  Matthew 4:12-17
  • 1/23      Sunday:  Matthew 4:18-23