Sunday January 22
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

First Reading (Isaiah 9. 1 – 4). Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 27). Second Reading (1 Corinthians 1.
10 -13, 17 – 18). Gospel : (Matthew 4. 12 – 23)

Can you imagine how exciting it was for Peter and his friends as they followed Jesus from town to
town? Hearing him preach so often, seeing him perform so many miracles, watching people’s lives
change so dramatically – no wonder they left their and became his disciples!

But what about those times when there were no crowds when they were travelling between towns or
on those days when Jesus took a break? What were those “in between” days like?

They were probably even more exciting! Those were the days even more exciting! Those were the
days when the disciples had Jesus all to themselves. They could ask him questions about what he
had taught the crowds. They could listen to him explain his parables, pray with him, and
experience for themselves the new relationship with his heavenly Father that he had proclaimed.
It’s possible that these were the days that really changed their lives.

Today is Sunday of the Word of god, a day when we celebrate the power and the grace contained in
God’s word in Scripture. This is the word that the disciples heard day in and day out, and it can
change us just as it changed them. It can comfort us, convict us and lift our hearts to heaven. It can
bring us to our knees in humble repentance, and it can lift us to our feet in joyful worship.

Do you want to experience God’s word coming to life in you? Then imitate the apostles. Spend
time with Jesus and immerse yourself in his word. Ask him questions about what you read there,
and listen prayerfully for his answers. It takes time, patience and perseverance, but the reward is
well worth the effort. Like the apostles, you’ll come to know Jesus personally as the One whose
love lasts forever and whose mercy never ends!

A young man was returning by sea from Italy to his native England. While the boat was detained in
Sicily, he fell ill and nearly died. During his convalescence, he wrote the famous classical hymn:
“Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom, lead thou me on.” That young man was none other
than, Cardinal Newman who was converted to Catholicism from the Anglican Church. Newman’s
words came from his heart, he fully believed the words of Isaiah, which we heard today in the first
reading: “People who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”

We Christians, believe that Jesus of Nazareth, born of woman, was the one who has been exalted by
our God, as the ‘light of nations’. It has been an historical fact 20 centuries; different people of
different nations, races and cultures have been influenced and brightened by the light of the same
Jesus. He has brightened their lives in a very personal way, turning them into new creatures of
light. They have been liberated from the darkness of injustice, of ignorance, of pride, of envy, of
slavery, of other human intolerant and demoniac attitudes. Such a wonderful and unthinkable
deliverance has occurred in millions of Jesus’ disciples, both individually and socially. For some
such a change was dramatic, and for others it was a gradual and gentle process of turning.

However, many among his disciples today, have our hours of darkness an unable to come out of
those critical situations. For example, the death of a lifelong spouse, an unexpected rejection or
unfaithfulness by a loved one, a smashed dream of business success or the loss of good health can
throw us into a temporary, even perennial darkness. Besides our individual and personal darkness
of addiction, depression, inhibition, complexes, and hardheaded stubbornness of pessimism, and
ignorance, we too socially are bound and engulfed in thick cloud of dark situations, such as: the
darkness of political culture based on the manipulation of some theory about God. The saddest
scenario we witness today, even within our Christian community, is that, there are good many
disciples who have not been delivered from the darkness of life. And even those who have had
such experience of change, have not stayed permanently with the Light. Today the Word of God
directs them with power, solid instruction, in order to be enlightened and liberated from darkness, to
live always in the Light.

First and foremost, God wants them to conform themselves to one gospel that, Jesus is the exalted
Son of God, the light of humanity. The term ‘to conform’ means, to go with, to fit with, to tune
with, to harmonize with. It’s simply to follow Jesus as our only light. When the apostles saw and
heard Jesus, they immediately left everything and followed him. They started being conformed to
Jesus’ lifestyle, his gospel, and his worldview. One more thing God expects, from those who desire
to achieve their goal of living in Light is that they have to not only conform to Jesus but also
frequently reform themselves in the light of Jesus. The only condition that places a block to our
conformity to Jesus, is ‘being conformed to our secure and self – identifying groupism or
communalism. That is why Jesus began preaching as his first message of deliverance, saying
‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Whoever left everything, which they held as their
security, like the disciples, were delivered from darkness and were healed from all diseases, were
delivered from darkness and were healed from all diseases. Let us go to Jesus, the Light from
heaven, who longs to send his ‘Sunshine’ on those who uninterruptedly recited the hymn of
Cardinal Newman: “Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom, led thou me on.”
God bless.