January 4th, 2021

The Gospel according to Matthew (4:12-17, 23-25)

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.”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. His fame spread to all of Syria, and they brought to him all who were sick with various diseases and racked with pain, those who were possessed, lunatics, and paralytics, and he cured them. And great crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan followed him.

Opening Prayer: Lord, a great crowd followed you during your ministry. Allow me, Lord, to stand among them and hear your voice as I recollect myself to pray.

Encountering Christ: As we all anticipated the New Year and by the most part was looking forward to saying goodbye to the year 2020. Most of us were looking forward to putting some type of symbolic distance between the past with hope for our future. 

The number 2020 is a number which is symbolic to many things: Such as

  • It is an “even” number as opposed to an odd number.
  • It indicates that you have perfect vision which a lot of us don’t have these days.
  • In the Bible, the number 20 symbolizes the cycles of completeness, but often it is connected to a perfect period of waiting, labor or suffering that is compared to a trial and rewarded. 
  • The number 20 is associated with a trial, a period of waiting and if it is successfully completed, the reward is generous and full of God’s love, in other case the punishment is just and right.

But instead, the year 2020 brought us chaos, pandemonium, aggravation, loneliness, heartache, and sadness. We have unfortunately witnessed death by this pandemic. We all sought out some type of relief. Throughout life we were taught by all our mentors to be “positive” but instead we hoped and prayed that we are to be “negative”. 

The Spiritual Exercises, Saint Ignatius of Loyola explains that the primary reason for our lives is to give to God the greatest glory we can. In other words, to bring forth the Kingdom of Heaven. But he also goes on to say that this can only be accomplished when we turn away from sin and all unwarranted attachments in our lives so that the one and only focus of our lives is the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the goal of repentance. In your own life, it is essential that you place before your mind and heart the call to repentance. It is essential that you daily hear Jesus saying those words to you: “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Do not only think about Him saying this many years ago; rather, hear it said to you, today, tomorrow and every day of your life. There will never be a time in your life when you do not need to repent with all your heart. We will never reach perfection in this life, so repentance must be our daily mission. 

No matter what is going on around us, it’s important to remember that God keeps transforming creation into something both good and new. Instead of hurtling us towards catastrophe, God always wants to bring us somewhere even better. A helpful word here is “evolution.” God keeps creating things from the inside out, so they are forever yearning, developing, growing, and changing for the good. That might be hard to see sometimes in the moment, but it’s nevertheless true.

Closing Prayer: Lord, you are all-powerful, generous, and good. I could spend the rest of my days striving to know you better and not have scratched the surface. Thank you for opening my mind and heart to repent of my wrongdoings, confident in the knowledge that you love me and created me for heaven, by your grace.

Action of the Day: Today, I will stop for 10 minutes and focus on heaven. I will listen to what God wants me to do, or say, and I will take ACTION.

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