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Stepping Out in Jesus’ Name
Monday after Epiphany
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, as I reflect on this beginning of your public ministry, I feel a certain excitement. Your saving mission is beginning to unfold. This is not something that happened just in the past; it continues to unfold today. I thank you for the gifts of my Baptism and Confirmation that unite my life with yours and that strengthen me in faith, hope, and charity. I thank you that I can turn to you and know that you are here with me and that through your gift of the Holy Spirit, I can hear you speaking to me and know your will for my life.
- Fulfillment of Prophecy: The arrest of John the Baptist was a catalyst for the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. John had been the herald, preparing the way for him, and now Jesus was stepping into the limelight. He was leaving behind the quiet of the hidden years, those thirty years of ordinary daily life, to announce God’s Kingdom in word and deed. What was it like for Jesus to know that life, as he had lived, was over—forever? Sometimes our lives take unexpected turns, or we are asked to make changes that have a permanent impact on our lives. Jesus gives us the example of embracing God’s will and living it wholeheartedly and faithfully.
- Repent: Jesus took up the Baptist’s cry, “Repent,” and his call continues to resound today. This call goes forth not only to those who do not know him but to every Christian as well. The Catechism speaks of the “uninterrupted task” of a “second conversion” (CCC 1428). We are called to lifelong conversion of heart, turning to God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength (cf. Mark 12:39). This requires both self-knowledge and daily reflection. It requires humility and honesty. It requires trust in the mercy of Christ. The examen prayer is a spiritual practice that, when prayed consistently, helps us live lives of ongoing conversion and greater intimacy with our Lord.
- Teaching and Curing: Jesus’ miraculous cures were signs of his divinity and drew attention to his teaching. Together his teaching and healing announced the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven. As Christians, we are called to continue to make this Kingdom visible and to call others to experience Christ’s healing power. This may mean helping an individual encounter Christ’s merciful love for the first time or helping someone return to the sacraments. It may mean speaking out to proclaim Christ’s saving truth. Is Christ calling you to a particular way of working to draw others to him?
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, thank you for the grace of your Holy Spirit who draws me to you. Holy Spirit, help me to see anything that is a barrier in my knowing, loving, and serving my Lord Jesus, and give me the grace to say “yes” to deeper conversion. Lord, you call me to participate in your ongoing mission of making your Kingdom known. Help me be attentive to your inspirations and act on them promptly.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make both a good examination of conscience and a firm commitment to go to the sacrament of Reconciliation within the next week, marking it on my calendar.
For Further Reflection: “An Easy Way to Do a Daily Examen, by Fr. Mark Mary Ames, CFR, on Ascension Presents: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUcoHAqOFRs.
Janet McLaughlin and her husband, Chris, live on a mountain in rural northeastern Oregon. She puts her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies to work as she shares the beauty and importance of the lay vocation in her writing, speaking, and teaching on spiritual topics.