Sunday Homily (Full Text)

Sunday Homily

Blessed Sacrament Parish
Readings and Gospel 
Homily by Deacon Terry Ellerman
January 26, 2014 – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
10 AM Service

Reading I Isaiah 8:23, 9:3
First the Lord degraded the land of Zebulun
and the land of Naphtali;
but in the end he has glorified the seaward road,
the land west of the Jordan,
the District of the Gentiles.

Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness:
for there is no gloom where but now there was distress.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom 
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.

Responsorial Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14
The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
The Lord is my light and my salvation.
One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.
The Lord is my light and my salvation.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD. 
The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Reading 2 I Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that all of you agree in what you say,
and that there be no divisions among you,
but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.
For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters,
by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you.
I mean that each of you is saying,
“I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” 
or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.”
Is Christ divided?
Was Paul crucified for you?
Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel,
and not with the wisdom of human eloquence,
so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.

Gospel Matthew 4:12-23
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,
he withdrew to Galilee.
He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,
in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, 
that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet
might be fulfilled:
Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles,
the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death 
light has arisen.
From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.
He went around all of Galilee,
teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness among the people.


In the first reading this morning, Isaiah talks about light and he talks about darkness.
The question I have for us this morning:  Who is the light in our darkness?  Who is the light in the darkness of the world?

It is believed that the book of the Prophet Isaiah was written in the Eighth century before Christ, during a time when the Israelites were not happy campers.  They were people under Syrian control, they were more like slaves, and they were truly living in darkness.  Then along comes the prophet Isaiah who says,  “The people who live in darkness (you Israelites) will see a great light.  For those who live in the dark land of death, the light will shine.”

That prophecy was fulfilled as we see in the reading from the Gospel of Matthew — that Jesus truly is the light of the world.  Notice that the Israelites, living in the lands of  Naphtali and Zebulun in the Eighth century B.C., were the hardest hit.  Interestingly enough, where did Jesus go but to the same area — the area of the Sea of Galilee — teaching, preaching and healing and bringing the light and showing us how we need to live.  

A number of years ago, a boy and a girl were on vacation with their parents.  They decided to take in the sights of one of the caves.  They went down deep into the cave and all of a sudden the lights went out.  Five-year-old Amy started to cry.  Then her eight-year old brother put his arm around her and said, “Don’t worry.  There is a man up there who knows how to turn on the lights.”

Well, that man for us who knows how to turn on the lights is Jesus Christ.  He is the one who shows us the way.  

When we think of darkness we think about sin.  We also think about those times in our lives when we are not happy, and things occur that are not good.

There was a person in the 1970s by the name of Darrell Stingley.  He was a football player who was a wide receiver for the New England Patriots.  One afternoon in a pre-game with the Oakland Raiders, one of the players tackled him and, unfortunately, he became paralyzed from the waist down.  His career was over.

Imagine us being Darrell.  Imagine us in the top of our game playing in a professional league and looking forward to the season and many years of playing, and all of a sudden in one afternoon, it’s gone.  That’s darkness.  

How do we handle that? How did he handle that?

After many, many months, Newsweek interviewed him and they asked him, “How he was and where he was.”  He said,  “This is a rebirth for me, not only physically, but spiritually.  I really have a lot more meaning and purpose to live for now than ever before.”

I don’t know if that is the way we would handle it or not.  But the message of the Gospel is the Gospel of hope.  And the message is: That we never have to live totally in darkness. Because if we have Jesus in our lives, he will help us through those times and not only that, we have one another.

Every week I do a prayer group at Good Sam and Curtis Creek and we talk about different topics, and last week we talked about suffering.  I asked,  “How do you deal with suffering?  How do you live with not being able to walk?  How do you deal with living in your environment?”

One by one they said, “Number One:  Christ suffered more than any of us have suffered.  Number Two: If we truly believe in Christ and we have him as part of our lives, then it doesn’t make any differences what suffering we have — because we will be able to endure it, because he gives us what we can endure.”

Each one of them said this happily and cheerfully.  It was not because they wanted to suffer, but they know that with Christ as part of who they are — they can endure whatever happens.

We all know the poem, “Footprints In The Sand” about the man who went to sleep and dreamt about his life.  In his dream he saw his life go by him and he could see himself walking on the beach by himself and there were two sets of footprints in the sand.  Then at other times in his life there was only one set of footprints in the sand.

So he asked, “Lord, how can this be? You said you would always be with me, and I see that you were with me in the good times, but I don’t see your footprints and that you were with me during the bad times.”  

The Lord smiled and said,  “Because that’s when I carried you.”

None of us need to be in darkness.  All of us will experience darkness.  Most of us probably have already experienced darkness: whether that be a relationship that didn’t work out, whether that be financial problems, whether that be health concerns — you name it, you knew when the darkness was there and what is was.  

Today the Gospel tells us that during these dark times, through prayer, and knowing that God is part of who we are — we can endure anything because God is the light that comes into our darkness and makes it the way it should be.  Every one of us here knows that it is through your baptism, and my baptism, that we receive the light of Christ — and that we are to shine that light of Christ to one another.  

Do miracles still occur today?  You bet, every day miracles occur through each one of us —  each one of us giving them, and each one of us receiving them.

There is a song we sing called “The City of God.”  It is a very powerful song
and it talks to us about not only Christ being a light of the world, but how we need to bring that light to the world to truly make a city of God.

The words to that song are:

“Let us build the city of God,  
may our tears be turned into dancing. 
For the Lord our light and our love,
Has turned the night into day.” 

For God is light,  
in God there is no darkness.  
Let us walk in his light, 
God’s children one and all.”  

O comfort my people,
make gentle your words,
Proclaim to my city, 
the day of her birth.”

O city of gladness, 
now lift up your voice,
Proclaim the good tidings,
that all may rejoice.”

Jesus truly is the answer to who is our light and darkness.  But it is his light that fuels our light every time we hear his word and receive the Eucharist, which enlightens our light so that it can be brighter, not just for us — but for each other.

So let us appreciate our light and use it to make our world a “City of God.”

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Terry Ellerman is a retired educator and serves as a deacon at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Quincy, Illinois.

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