Monday after Epiphany
(I John 3:22-4:6; Matthew 4: 12-17.23-25)
A biblical commentary points out that Jesus does not really “withdraw to Galilee.” Rather he, more or less, charges there to take up the torch John the Baptist left upon being arrested. He preaches the same message as John, “’The Kingdom of heaven is at hand,...’”. Because Herod Antipas, who arrested John, is still king, Jesus risks a similar fate.
Galilee may be part of old Israel, but it is hardly all-Jewish. It has been termed a “shadowland.” Gentiles inhabit the land in probably about equal numbers. Jesus does not preach to them, however, but concentrates on shoring up the faith of the Jews. He proclaims the kingdom not just with words but with cures and exorcisms as well. The Jews of Galilee, cut off from the source of their spiritual life in Jerusalem, experience in Jesus a light of hope.
Western culture has become a kind of Galilee, a “shadowland.” Remnants of Christianity exist but the culture is more secular than Christian. Public schools, for example, do not promote Christian belief nor does entertainment exhibit Christian practice. In this environment the Church must strive to shore up Christian faith. It does so by a coherent and compelling explanation of gospel values and by an open practice of its customs. The Church will then serve, as Jesus, called it, a “the light of the world.”