Print Version January 22nd, 2005
I’ve caught myself several times in the last few days walking a particular way with these readings. That echo between Isaiah and Matthew has me wondering, wondering about the people who walked in darkness, wondering about the darkness, about the yoke, the bar across the shoulder, the rod of the oppressor. God knows there’s enough of all that about—worldwide, countrywide, church-wide. Darkness on a scale the gospel couldn’t imagine.
I shouldn’t watch the news because I come away depressed at the state we get continue to get ourselves in, redemption or no redemption. I shouldn’t read the Catholic Herald on a Friday because I always come away angry at all the axes being ground: I’m for Paul, I’m for Apollos, I’m for Christ.
I guess if you are looking to the future yourselves you are only too aware of the darkness, of the people walking there, of the magnitude of the tasks before you.
The trouble is that though the darkness is fascinating, these readings are about the light, about Good News not bad. And I’ve had to bring that back to focus over and over. Isaiah and Matthew agree: there is Good News in the most unpromising places at the most unpromising times. Darkness only offers a place for the light to shine. Even in Zebulun and Naphtali.
Today, Jesus is not exactly on the run but he must have been shaken by his cousin’s arrest, shaken enough to head for home. Matthew makes it sound like a change of plans, Jesus backing off from the centre of things down south, going back to Galilee, maybe even backing down. There must have been a sense of defeat in him: just started and already running home.
But Matthew reads Good News even here, a prophecy fulfilled: it isn’t faithful Judah who is first to see the light but the long lost tribes of Israel in half-pagan Galilee, Galilee of the Gentiles, way of the sea on the far side of Jordan. That’s where Jesus’ light first shines, where he settles and makes his home. That’s where he calls down the kingdom of God, healing, teaching, casting out evil. That’s where he finds his first followers, the first few to fish with him for human hearts.
We find ourselves, 2000 years on, fishing still and fishing in often unpromising waters. But, after all, fishing in good company.