Sunday, Jan. 26, is the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Liturgical Year A, Cycle II).
Feb. 1 is the feast of St. Brigid, patroness of Ireland. Brigid was born a few years after St. Patrick arrived in Ireland. Her parents were members of the aristocracy. She grew up to be beautiful and generous with the poor — and, says Catholic legend, God was generous with her. Once, she gave away a pail of milk and worried that her mother would be angry with her. By the time she got home, the pail was full again. Another legend says that the beautiful Brigid prayed that her beauty would be taken away from her in order to make it easier for her family, because she had many marriage suitors but wanted to enter religious life. The prayer was granted, says the story — until she was safely in the convent, when her beauty returned. She died in 525.
Isaiah 8:23-9:3; Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17; Matthew 4:12-23 or 4:12-17
Today’s Gospel reading sums up the mission of Jesus in three actions.
“He went around all of Galilee,” it says, 1) “teaching in their synagogues, 2) “proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom” and 3) “curing every disease and illness among the people.”
This is exactly what we are called to do today. Think of different ways you could express this three-point mission of Jesus.
He was involved in catechesis, evangelization and service to the needy.
He served in the “parishes,” in the world “all around Galilee” and in the hospitals.
He reached out to churchgoers, invited others in and brought the message out to the homebound.
It’s important to note what these three things have in common, too.
All three of them involve showing people where God is. He can be found in the word of God, in our daily life and in the sufferings that we face.
They are all three forms of teaching: through the lecture method, through testimony of the Good News and by showing us how to act through his actions.
All three of them also show that God wants us to be happy. He wants to alleviate our moral suffering, our emotional suffering and our physical suffering.
Last, the three things have lots of applications to our lives.
We should study, pray and act — study his teachings, encounter his Gospel in prayer and act on his words.
He should be in our minds, in our hearts and in our “hands” — in what we learn, what we love and what we do for others.
We should sacrifice, pray and give alms: We must scrifice our time for the Church, spend time with Jesus in the Gospels and serve others.
“There has been a growing awareness of the identity and mission of the laity in the Church,” said Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium ("The Joy of the Gospel").
The three aspects of the mission he mentions should be no surprise: “the tasks of charity, catechesis and the celebration of the faith.”
They are Jesus’ tasks of love — and ours.
Tom and April Hoopes write from
Atchison, Kansas, where Tom is
writer in residence at Benedictine College.