This Sunday’s Gospel reading is one of those that has the option of a long form and a short form. I read the long form while spending time with this Gospel, although most of my reflection below ended up centering around the part that is encapsulated by the short form. I’m definitely curious to see what part of this Gospel passage speaks to you the most. So please share your thoughts or insights in the comments.
So let’s get ready. Be sure to have the Gospel passage in front of you, and here is an easy link: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. If you need a brief review of the steps for lectio divina you can find a nice description from the Saint Meinrad Archabbey Oblates website. Remember to read the Gospel reading before each of the next four sections below and take some time to reflect on the questions before reading my responses.
Help me, Lord, to hear what you want me to hear and may your Holy Spirit guide me to share what you want me to share. Amen.
A word or phrase (or more) that caught your attention during your first reading of the passage. Mine included:
- Great light
- Followed him
REFLECT: What is God saying to you?
The second half of Sunday’s Gospel (if you read the long form) is familiar and easy to focus your attention toward. But as I read this I kept going back to the first half. It seems simple: John is arrested, Jesus retreats to a different part of the country, and he begins his ministry there, in a somewhat backwoods, out of the way place. The prophecy from Isaiah kept drawing me in. I love the contrast of the darkness to the light. The people are in darkness, the land is overshadowed by death, and yet, they have seen a great light, light has arisen. The people here in Galilee seem to be in a wasteland, hopeless, surrounded by poverty. They are nothing but a tiny fishing village, unimportant in the eyes of most. Yet here is where Jesus comes to be the light that brings them hope. Jesus is the light. Are we surprised that he begins his ministry in a poor, unimportant place? You could say that he was just simply fulfilling the prophesy as told by Isaiah, but look back just a few weeks ago. What did we celebrate not too long ago in the Church calendar? Christmas! This King of Heaven and Earth was born in a lowly stable in the poorest of poor circumstances. It only makes sense that he would start his ministry in much the same way.
RESPOND: What do you want to say to God?
Thinking about Jesus beginning his ministry in a land that was poor and regarded as unimportant by most people, makes me think about those times when I am in a dark place. Sometimes when we are down about something or suffering from immense pain, whether physical or mental, or maybe grieving the loss of a loved one, we can often feel like we are trapped in darkness. Isaiah mentions the “people who sit in darkness,” and those people can be us at any time. When I think of Jesus beginning his ministry here it is a good reminder that he is always with us, even in the darkness. We may not always see it immediately, but he is there to be the light to bring us out of the darkness.
Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for always being the light in the darkness. Thank you for being the one who brought me out of the darkness during times of grief and suffering in my life. I pray that others will feel your presence and look to you when they face their own times of darkness.
Read the passage one final time and spend a few moments in quiet contemplation, rest in the words of the Gospel.
What do you feel God is saying to you in this passage? How would you respond to him? Share your thoughts in the comments.