Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 26, 2020 Cycle A
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.B., Chaplain,
Saint John Paul II National Shrine
 Washington, D.C.

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Sunday Reading Meditations

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

“The Kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 4:17).

After Jesus had been baptized and spent forty days in the solitude of the desert, he began his public life, the accomplishment of the mission entrusted to him by the Father.

Jesus moved from Nazareth to Capernaum. Nazareth was a small, mountainous hamlet, a place of silence where Jesus had spent thirty years engaged in prayer and manual labor. Nazareth was a period of preparation. Now, in Capernaum, it was the time for the accomplishment of his mission. This is Jesus’ itinerary: from the little village in the mountains to the cosmopolitan town by the sea; from a hidden private life to public life; from solitude to crowds.

Nazareth and Capernaum are two essential dimensions in Christian life: a time to be silent and a time to proclaim; a time to be aware and a time to manifest oneself; a time for contemplation and a time for action. We constantly have to pass from one to another. We cannot always stay in the quiet Nazareth, as we cannot remain forever in the bustling Capernaum.  Capernaum is a town by the sea, a town with a broad horizon and challenges, where the mission took place.

“The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Jesus started his public mission with two acts: proclaiming the proximity of God to human life and calling the apostles.  The announcement of the proximity of the kingdom of heaven happened at the same time as the foundation of the Church.

Jesus brought the life of God from heaven to earth. What is God’s life? We can answer with one word: communion. The Trinity is the eternal communion of love.  The proclamation of the kingdom of God creates the Church. The new community was born from Jesus’ announcement. He called Simon, Andrew, James and John to live with him what he had always lived with the Father. 

“The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Thus, we understand how important communion is. Jesus prayed and gave his life for communion: “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (Jn 17:20–21).

In the second reading, we heard Saint Paul talk about problems of divisions and rivalries in the community of Corinth. He said that people were creating different groups, forgetting that we are all the same.  What happened in Corinth shows us that communion is always at risk. Divisions can happen in Christian communities. When this happens, we do not show the world that “the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” With our divisions and rivalries, we overshadow the presence of God with us.

What could conquer such divisions? What could create communion?

We could rashly think that it is a matter of eliminating the differences: to transform Peter, Andrew, James and John into the same person. That is the wrong answer and the worldly way to resolve the situation. Moreover, it is impossible because Peter, Andrew, James and John will always be Peter, Andrew, James and John.

Communion is compatible with differences. Differences are good.  One thing created communion among the apostles: Jesus’ call. The apostles were different but they followed the master together. They said the same “yes” to Jesus’ invitation.

To live communion, we have to conquer the temptation to think that we are the center of the world. We are simply a piece of the whole. We belong to something that is bigger than all of us.

If we think that our group is everything, we are wrong. We have to think that our group is very good but that the Church is greater than our group and Jesus is greater than the Church. If we maintain this position, we can embrace everything.

“The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  We ask Jesus for the gift of unity, for all of us to be builders of communion.  Amen.