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January 22, 2017: The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Pastor’s Corner

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. (Mt. 4:12-23)

This weekend we celebrate the culmination of the 800th Jubilee of Dominican life.  Whereas last October,  Fr. Bruno Cadore, who is the Master of the Order of Preachers, traveled here to St. Dominic’s to open the anniversary with a special Mass, this weekend Pope Francis joins Fr. Bruno in Rome to officiate at the closing ceremonies.  One of the unique liturgical moments of the opening Mass was the lighting of the Dominican candle, a candle which has been lit for all of our liturgies during the Jubilee.  The image of light is significant for Dominicans.  Those who knew and lived with St. Dominic referred to him as “Lumen Ecclesia” (The light of the Church).  This affectionate nickname is the title of the chant which ends our daily night prayers.  Just as even as the most fragile flame can illumine a dark room, so too St. Dominic shone with the light of his preaching in an era emerging from “the Dark Ages,” an epoch marked by cultural and spiritual darkness.

In these dark, stormy winter days after Christmas, our readings present the image of Christ as light. In the first reading, Isaiah prophesies that the Messiah will be a light which decisively defeats the darkness of death.  In the Gospel, St. Matthew sees this prophesy as fulfilled in the preaching of Jesus as he calls his first apostles to follow him and proclaim the good news: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Jesus’ mission to radiate this good news is shared by those who follow him.  Jesus does not call the apostles to bask in the glow of belief, but also, to spark belief in the hearts of others through their actions.  

Here at St. Dominic’s our parish vision is “To radiate the joy of Gospel in the heart of the City.”  Just as Jesus called Peter and Andrew to preach the good news, so too, he calls us to share the light of Christ with others.  This means that we must recognize and cultivate the flame of faith in our hearts.  Prayer, study and works of mercy fan this flame of Christ in our lives.  But Jesus does not want us to simply be illumined by his presence, but to shine for others to see.  Whenever we share the blessings of our lives with others, the light of Christ grows stronger in our world.  May the ending of our Dominican Jubilee be a fresh beginning for radiating Christ’s light in our City!

  •  - Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P., Pastor

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