The Bishops Homily – 3rd Sunday In Ordinary Time

3rd Sunday Ordinary Time
Is. 8:23 – 9:3
I Cor. 1:10-13.17
Mt. 4:12-23

Isaiah and Matthew in the readings for this week make specific historical reference in the history of Israel and in the life of Jesus.

(1) The 1st Reading brings us back to the 8th century BC during the time of the prophet Isaiah. A century before Isaiah Assyrians hit hard on Israel especially in the NW near and around the Sea of Galilee – namely Zebulon and Napthali and brought its inhabitants as prisoners to Babylon. “The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow, a light has shone.”

(2) Matthew, well versed in Hebrew Scripture, applied this passage from Isaiah to the emergence of Jesus as a public figure who comes from Nazareth, a region in Zebulon and Naphtali, looked upon with disdain by people from the South. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” asked Nathaniel. Matthew precisely quotes the above passage from Isaiah. Now we have a standard Biblical motif: “God has a way of bringing the best out of the worst; of making wonders from the least expected.” The logic of God that runs relentlessly through the Bible: “Light tends to come from darkness; Grace breaks through the most unexpected corner!” The logic of the World, seen from ADS, movies and theme songs, is quite the opposite “Success builds on success! Pains, sufferings like growing old is to be avoided at all cost!”

(3) Logic of God runs through the Bible and in the lives of the Saints:

  • From Abraham and Sarah barren comes the children of the Promise: Isaac, Jacob, etc…
  • Joseph, sold and imprisoned, becomes the viceroy of Egypt.
  • Moses, in exile for years, become the liberator of Israel.
  • Hannah, childless and forgotten, becomes the mother of Samuel, one of Israel’s greatest prophets.
  • David, the youngest son, become King of Israel.
  • Jeremiah who stammers becomes a great prophet.
  • Paul the Persecutor becomes the Apostle of the Gentiles.
  • The Crucified Jesus is the Son of God.
  • St. John of the Cross was asked by Jesus what he wanted. I want not to be known like you.
  • Teresa of Avila
  • The Little Flower
  • Padre Pio

Conclusion: What is the Zebulon and Naphtali in your life? What right now is the place of darkness and gloom in your life? What opposition and hardship are you experiencing now? It can be a psychological suffering or a persistent sin. St. Paul reflected on his thorn in the flesh; three times he asked the Lord to be taken away but the Lord did not, telling him: “In weakness, power reaches perfection.”

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches