HOMILY FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: MAN OF GALILEE
BY: Fr. Gerald Musa
HOMILY: Henry Stanley, an American journalist and explorer was about the first writer to use the term “Dark Continent” in reference to Africa in 1878. Sub-Saharan Africa was called Dark Continent, not just because of lack of electricity but because it was relatively unknown to people of other continents. From afar, Europeans and Americans perceived this continent as a mystery and as dangerous. Later on, colonialists and missionaries dared to explore the land and young missionaries became keen to go for mission in this land. Their mission was to bring the light of ‘civilisation’ and the gospel to the people. In the course of doing so they formed Church communities, built schools and hospitals, etc. Some of these missionaries successfully carried out their work and lived to tell their stories, some others could not survive the weather condition and other inconveniences.
It is not easy going to land of the unknown, or even to make decisions to leave a comfort zone and go to a difficult place. Everyone wants to work in a place where there are countless opportunities for progress and we tend to prefer a place where we can acquire wealth and fame than a place that is associated with suffering.
Jesus shocked the people by beginning his ministry in Galilee. Galilee was not one of the famous places that anyone in his right senses would like to go. The prophet Isaiah made reference to Galilee as “land of Zebulun and Naphtali” and as a people who walked in darkness. Isaiah called them a people in darkness because the Assyrians in 721BC captured them.
Therefore, they were living under the yoke of slavery and were in the darkness and distress of defeat. At the beginning Galilee (land of Zebulun and Naphtali was mainly occupied by the Jews but after the invasion of Galilee, people of different nationalities came to settle there. This is why Isaiah calls it “Galilee of the nations” (Isaiah 9:1). Nathaniel’s remark: “Can anything good come from Nazareth” is a typical example of how the Jews thought about people who were from any of the towns of Galilee, including Nazareth. Another bad news about Galilee was that the people are known to be rebellious and violent. No one wanted to be associated with Galilee but Jesus.
Jesus chose to make Capernaum, one of the small towns of Galilee, his headquarters because it was a crossroad, which attracted travellers from Syria, Phoenicia and Egypt. Capernaum is like a little town, which sits on a junction and where buses from different directions would stop to get passengers.
Among all other places Jesus chose to work in the province of Galilee because:
• He preferred to work with a people who are despised and treated as inferiors.
• The people of Galilee desperately needed Jesus’ message because they knew they were sinners in need of mercy, unlike the Jews in Judea (South) who were self-righteous.
• He chose Galilee because it was a country of different races, and so working there will demonstrate that his ministry was not only for the Jews but also for all.
The message of the Gospel is a message of light that transports people from darkness into light and this is why Paul wrote to the Corinthians who were also sitting in the darkness of divisions, conflicts, cliques, and factions. The darkness of dissension engulfed this promising community and this darkness needed to be extinguished by the light of the Gospel.
The Church of today lives with the darkness of disunity as we witness the proliferation of ministries. Nobody wants to be an active member of a community, but gifted Christians want to be overseers, forming their own ministries. Jesus chose disciples to be his collaborators and they stayed with him for several years before he sent them out. If Jesus were to choose these disciples in today’s world, we can imagine that one of these disciples would pick a quarrel with Jesus after six months and establish his own ministry. One of the problems of the Christian world today is that there are too many personal ministries which are located mostly in “juicy” and “oily” cities and so the light of the Gospel is not reaching many “Galilean villages” that are in dire need.
Cf: Isaiah 8:23-9:3; 1 Corinthian 1:10-13, 17; Matthew 4:12-23; Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A.