(3rd Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 8:23—9:3; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13; Matthew 4:12-23)
In the face of the confusion and even rivalry that we find reflected in our second reading, Paul goes to the heart of the matter: “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
As we can see in this and various other texts of the New Testament, disunity among believers was an ongoing concern. As it happens, we have just concluded the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25). The fact that this is an annual event is a sign that the problem, unfortunately, still exists.
Separation, of course, is natural. People who have been joined by bonds of affection may move to different cities or countries; couples vow to be faithful “until death do us part,” and so on. Peter, Andrew, James and John left their families to follow Jesus. Separation is part of every human life.
Division is different. It implies a kind of separation that has a different kind of cause, usually conflict, the sources of which seem virtually endless.
Our Lady of La Salette addresses one sort of division in particular, occasioned by the indifference of those whom she calls “my people” toward the one she calls “my Son.” As La Salette Religious and Laity, whenever we see division, we feel a desire to draw people back together again and, if necessary, back to God.
Some divisions are of a specifically religious character. Just as the Beautiful Lady could not stand by and simply allow us to suffer the consequences of our sins, just as St. Paul could not be indifferent to the divisions among the Corinthians, so also we feel the need to respond to the divisions and suffering in our Church. But there are many situations in our world as well and, probably, much closer to home, in need of our charism of reconciliation.
Matthew sees the move of Jesus to Capernaum as fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” In responding to his call, and to Mary’s desire that we make her message known, we can do our part to bring light into the darkness.
How? That depends on the uniqueness of our individual call, personality and gifts. Be creative!