Before Holy Qurbana
12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee.
13 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali,
14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles:
16 The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death
Light has dawned.”
17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Four Fishermen Called as Disciples
18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.
19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them,
22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
by Rev. Fr. Mathew C. Chacko, Ph. D., NJ
Gospel Reading: Matthew 4: 12-22
From John the Baptist to Jesus to the Apostles, the theme of preaching was repentance.
1. Repentance is a pre-requisite for fellowship with God.
The First parents lost their good relationship - their fellowship with God when they refused to abide by his directions. They listened and believed another messenger, who confused them by interpreting God's commands to them. For them to be back in fellowship with God they need to repent and confess.
The parable of the lost son is the story of the sinner's restoration of fellowship with God. The story begins when the prodigal says, "I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants." [Luke 15: 17-19] The father accepts the lost son unconditionally and restored his fellowship with himself and his household. He celebrated that restoration of the fellowship by throwing a party with his friends and other relatives.
The whole story resembles the confession and communion of God's people around the Eucharistic Table every Sunday. The one thing that we often forgets is that the Eucharistic assembly is where God - the Holy Trinity - with all the saints and our departed ones assemble to welcome you and me - the returning prodigals - if we truly desire to restore our lost fellowship with the Father and his household. We need to see this picture clearly as we assemble each Sunday around the Holy Table.
Here we are reminded of the Lord's invitation to each of us, knocking at our doors, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." [Revelations 3: 20] What a privilege it is to fellowship with the Savior! We need to have him come inside our doors, leaving all other, so that our fellowship with him takes precedence and priority over all other.
2. Repentance is more about God and our relationship with him than our sins.
When there is God in our lives, there will be no sin. Darkness cannot live in the presence of light. Sin and darkness are caused by God's absence. "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. [Isaiah 55: 6] In your darkness, in your sin call on the Lord, he will come to us. We can draw close to him. This is repentance. Zacchaeus desired to see Jesus. The moment Jesus saw him, he said, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately,. I must stay at your house today. [Luke 19: 5] Jesus comes to have fellowship with the sinner. We do not know whether his desire to see Jesus was an act of repentance, but one thing we know, he started confessing his sins in Jesus' presence in his own house. We can even say that Zacchaeus had communion first, and then confession came as response to the awareness of the Lord's presence. It must be added that repentance, confession and communion are so closely related that when we do one, the others are evoked in us. May we keep this tension in our awareness that the work of the Holy Spirit for our sanctification may continue? To God be the glory!
3. The Kingdom of God is near. Return home, O weary traveler!
It is a privilege that we have to come to God's presence at least weekly in Eucharistic celebrations. Some are fortunate to have their own Church building that Saturday Evening Prayers and weekday celebrations of the Liturgy are possible. We may not be using it fully well at this time, but as we will have retired people in each locality, better use of our facilities may become a reality.
"You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and hat is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stones." The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, "I am trembling with fear."
"But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of joyful assembly, to the Church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? [Hebrews 12: 18-25]
This is where we assemble Sunday after Sunday - In the heavenly Jerusalem, where God, his angels, the saints, the departed in Christ and us, the Church on earth assembles to worship God with the Heavenly Church.
This should evoke fear of God and trust in him that our assembly will be a blessing to our progenies and us.