Sunday, January 26, 2014

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker 

In today’s Gospel Jesus moves from one locale to another: “He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.”

As the Gospel continues, we understand this not to be a real estate move but a sensitive and prophetic fulfillment — God’s plan being realized. Jesus moved to the land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.

Jesus was the one who had been called to fulfill what the prophet Isaiah had said: “the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.” This light was meant to reach all as Jesus began his public ministry. His message was simple: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

To all who would hear this, the light would begin to enter and the connection with God, deep within the spirit, would begin to be realized. It is in this context that he calls his disciples. They immediately left their nets, their work, their families, and followed.

A people sat in darkness – for years. Years of occupation of their land, seizing of their crops, robbing them of any wealth, taking their children into battles, leaving them out of all decisions about their lives and futures – this was the reality for the people of Zebulun and Naphtali. Darkness! But God would not leave them abandoned. He would not allow the darkness to be permanent. God sent Jesus the light; and things began to happen.

“He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.” This was to be the pattern of his whole continuous ministry. He stayed nowhere. He went everywhere. His life was not about being comfortable. He came, as has been said, to "comfort the afflicted" and to "afflict the comfortable." He came to bring light to shine in the darkness and to give new life. He taught in the synagogues; he proclaimed the Good News; he healed the sick and made them whole.

His ministry still lives on. His light today is the same. The kingdom of God is at hand. His teaching continues to guide our lives to justice and love. His healing power still makes us whole. We find ultimate wholeness, not in the condition of our bodies, but of our souls.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112, or email pleiker@stbernard-church.com.

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