Gospel Reflections

3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Matthew 4:12-23

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Maria Delaney

Published: December 25, 2019



The Christmas carols we associate with Jesus’ birth all center around the events celebrated in the Dawn liturgy for Christmas Day.   Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Away in a Manger and Joy to the World all proclaim the Gospel narrative.  However, this tableau is not meant to be a moment cemented in time. It challenges each of us who follow Jesus to ponder, like Mary, what these events mean to us and how we reflect that meaning in our life. The principal people in the Christmas Gospels give us examples.
 
The shepherds were given startling news in startling circumstances – angels making an extraordinary proclamation to them in the middle of the night.   The message of the Gospel implicitly asks the shepherds, “You, among the lowliest strata in society, have been chosen to receive special information, “What are you going to do about this?” They overcame their fear and chose to take the dramatic step of walking their flock to Bethlehem to search for this child in a stable.  Although “they went in haste” moving their flock would take time.  Along the way, they “made known the message that had been told them about this child.”  They then returned to their fields, new persons because they believed in the proclamation that a new dawn had arrived, hope had invaded their space and there was reason to celebrate. Do we allow new information to invade our space, to change our outlook and transform us?

Meeting a pregnant woman, the often maligned but ultimately kindly innkeeper moved Mary out of the public courtyard, where everyone slept at the inn, into the stable where she could give birth in private. He answered the “What am I going to do about this?” question with care and compassion. Immigrants on every continent hope for similar hospitality.
Mary and Joseph would have been very frightened by Jesus’ birth after a long, arduous trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem, on foot and by donkey with no resources. Surrounded by people who were not familiar to them. The question of “What are we going to do about this?” never had clear answers for Jesus’ parents during his life; they often relied on the kindness of strangers.

Paul’s letter to Titus in the second reading states that the appearance of the Savior was not linked to any merit on our part and we are now “heirs” of eternal life. – “What are you going to do about this?” again blares out, in this instance to us: Proclaim this Good News you have been privileged to receive, Live accordingly and Pass it on.

“Behold, your Savior comes!”

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