(I John3:22-4:6; Matthew 4:12-17.23-25)
Driving in the country, one feels relief when the lights of a city appear ahead. The driver is assured that he or she is not alone and that if necessary, food, fuel, and lodging will soon be available. The gospel today speaks of Jesus as a similarly reassuring light shining in the rural darkness of Galilee.
Jesus begins his preaching away from Jerusalem. Of course, he comes from Nazareth in Galilee, but there is a strategic reason to preach at first away from the cultural center. Sophisticated city-dwellers are likely to reject out of hand Jesus’ message of God’s radical love for sinners and the correspondent response that this love elicits. But after the message gains traction in rural areas, the people of Jerusalem will more likely listen to him.
Spiritual darkness surrounds us today in many ways. Self-satisfaction has replaced family and community as the principal object of people’s concern. Religion is often less important than devotion to one’s football team. In the midst of this darkness we, at least, glimpse the church which Jesus left behind as a lighthouse leading us safely home.