Mt 4:12–17, 23–25
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to settle down in Capernaum, a town by the lake of Galilee, at the border of Zebulun and Naphtali.
In this way the word of the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali crossed by the Road of the Sea, and you who live beyond the Jordan, Galilee, land of pagans, listen: The people who lived in darkness have seen a great light; on those who live in the land of the shadow of death, a light has shone.
From that time on, Jesus began to proclaim his message, “Change your ways: the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Jesus went around all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom, and curing all kinds of sickness and disease among the people. The news about him spread through the whole of Syria, and the people brought all their sick to him, and all those who suffered: the possessed, the deranged, the paralyzed, and he healed them all. Large crowds followed him from Galilee and the Ten Cities, from Jerusalem, Judea, and from across the Jordan.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus continues where John the Baptist left off. If John’s rallying cry was to call for repentance, Jesus brings the call further and proclaims, “Change your ways: the kingdom of heaven is near.” Repentance is incomplete without a real change of attitudes and behavior. Sadly, it seems that the call of the Gospel is being drowned by a louder and more seductive message coming from today’s society, which media and advertisements promote: that the more we have, the happier we can be. This message is seductive because it seems natural to work hard in order to earn more so we can have more. But there is the danger that the more focused we are on ourselves and on our wants, we can become blind to the needs of others who are less fortunate than we are. Jesus sets an example for us. After announcing to the people to change their ways, he immediately immerses into a life of service by teaching, proclaiming, and healing. This is the mission he wants to share with us according to our individual gifts and capacities. When such a change happens in us, the kingdom is already being realized in our midst.
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