After celebrating the Epiphany and the baptism of Jesus, the next few weeks enter into a period of Ordinary time between Epiphany and Lent.
These Ordinary Days differ a bit from the Ordinary days of summer. They are a time where we stop, listen, concentrate, and contemplate. We enter into the mysteries of our faith and focus on how the life of Jesus intersects with our own. In this time, we stop to think about what we have witnessed in Christmas and Epiphany and allow it to take root in our daily existence.*
This week we stop to focus in on a mystery which seems so simple and common place: Jesus as the light in the darkness.
This metaphor seems like it is simple and straight forward, but when we stop to hone in, concentrate, and allow it to sink deep within our souls, we find there is a depth and a profoundness to this metaphor which we often overlook in its simplicity.
This week, we slow down and we ruminate in this beautiful and mysterious metaphor.
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee. He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah:
“In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali,
beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River,
in Galilee where so many Gentiles live,
the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light.
And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow,
a light has shined.”
From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him.
A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.
Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness.
Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.
The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.
You will enlarge the nation of Israel,
and its people will rejoice.
They will rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest
and like warriors dividing the plunder.
For you will break the yoke of their slavery
and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.
You will break the oppressor’s rod,
just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The one thing I ask of the Lord—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple.
For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
Then I will hold my head high
above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the Lord with music.
Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
Do not turn your back on me.
Do not reject your servant in anger.
You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
O God of my salvation!
1 Corinthians 1:10-18
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.”
Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not! I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, for now no one can say they were baptized in my name. (Oh yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas, but I don’t remember baptizing anyone else.) For Christ didn’t send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News—and not with clever speech, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power.
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.
God, as we meditate this week, speak to our hearts.
Help us to slow down and see the things we often overlook.
Help us to see the people we overlook.
Help us to see the darkness in our lives which we need to deal with.
Help us to engage darkness by following your example.
Teach us what it means to see light, live in light, and be light.
Thank you for this metaphor and give us the patience to slow down and allow it to sink into the depths of our hearts.
*Much of this comes from this book, which is a great introduction to the Liturgical calendar if you are new to it.