Redemption through Christ, the Apostles, and their successors: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Christ entrusted the Gospel to St. Peter and the Apostles, who by God’s will have entrusted it to their successors: the pope and bishops united to him.

Central idea: Redemption through Christ, the Apostles, and our bishop. Doctrine: Apostolicity. Practical Application: Unity with our bishop and the pope.

To view the Lectionary 67 readings, click here.

Central idea: Redemption through Christ, the Apostles, and our bishop

Reading 1 Is 8:23—9:3

First the Lord degraded the land of Zebulun
and the land of Naphtali;
but in the end he has glorified the seaward road,
the land west of the Jordan,
the District of the Gentiles.

Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness:
for there is no gloom where but now there was distress.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.

  • Isaiah prophesies that the northern regions of the Promised Land, now conquered and oppressed by the Assyrian Empire, will be delivered.
  • The land of Zebulun and Naphtali are also by extension every place. Everywhere, due to original sin, people walk in darkness, in the gloom of ignorance and error, suffering in every way, facing the anguish of death.
  • Due to original sin, people have the temptation to seize by cunning or violence the good things they desire. The innocent and powerless are their victims.
  • God’s answer is his gospel or good news: I will deliver you and give you every good thing.
  • The Blessed Virgin Mary said this in her Magnificat:

His mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever. (Lk 1:50-55)

Responsorial Psalm Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.

  • God is the source of every good, either directly or through intermediaries.
  • God is our light, our salvation, our protection from every evil, our true “home,” the most beautiful being, the maker of beautiful things, and our bounty.
  • A person wise enough to be religious wants to be with the Lord for these reasons.
  • In this life we are both with him and not yet with him and have to wait with longing and a stout heart.

Reading 2 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17

I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that all of you agree in what you say,
and that there be no divisions among you,
but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.
For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters,
by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you.
I mean that each of you is saying,
“I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,”
or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.”
Is Christ divided?
Was Paul crucified for you?
Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel,
and not with the wisdom of human eloquence,
so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.

  • Paul urges the Corinthians to be united, but what will unite them?
  • It is good for all Catholics to be united, but what will unite them?
  • It is good for all Christians to be united, but what will unite them?
  • The answer is apostolicity: The Church founded by Jesus Christ is apostolic. Christ entrusted his gospel to the apostles, who entrusted it to the bishops they appointed in their place, right down to us today.

Gospel Mt 4:12-23

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.”

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.
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.

  • The light that dawned on Galilee that Isaiah foresaw is Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God in person.
  • The “light” he brought was his gospel or glad teachings and his miracles that healed people’s worst oppressions, “every disease and illness.”
  • To incorporate people into this new kingdom, he appointed apostles, beginning with Peter, Andrew, James, and John.
  • This light which overthrows every darkness, especially death, began to shine in Jesus’ home region, but it extends to the entire world and to every age, past, present, and future.

Doctrine: Apostolicity

  • The Church is apostolic:
    • “She was and remains built on ‘the foundation of the Apostles,’ the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself” (CCC 857).
      • In today’s Gospel reading, we see Jesus choosing Peter, Andrew, John, and James.
      • He formed them during his public ministry.
      • After his Resurrection, he commissioned them to spread the Gospel to the whole world.
    • “With the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching, the ‘good deposit,’ the salutary words she has heard from the apostles” (CCC 857).
      • In the early Church, when novel doctrines were proposed, the test was always, “What did the apostles teach”?
    • “She continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, ‘assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church’s supreme pastor’” (CCC 857).
      • Apostolic succession is the direct line of bishops all the way back to the apostles.
      • This is how Christ continues to teach, sanctify, and rule the people of God.

Practical Application: Unity with our Bishop and the Pope

  • Because he is “our” successor of the apostles, we ought to know the mind and heart of our own diocesan bishop and cooperate with him. To do this, we must pay attention to what he says.
  • Because he is the successor of St. Peter, we ought to know the mind and heart of the pope and cooperate with him. To do this, we must pay attention to what he says.
  • It is both easy and hard to know what your bishop and the pope want. It is easy because of the means of social communication. We can read and even hear their words. It is also hard, especially in the case of the pope, because his words and intent can be grossly distorted by the media and politicians.
  • Through his or her life of prayer, each member of the faithful can discern and harmonize what God wants for him or her individually with what He wants more generally as expressed through one’s bishop and everyone’s pope.
    • Pope Francis, for example, is emphasizing three aspects of the theological virtue of charity: service to the poor; mercy and patience toward sinners; and evangelization.
    • No matter our condition, each of us can do something along these lines.
  • What is the agenda of your own diocesan bishop? In my diocese it is many things but particularly stewardship and discipleship in line with what St. Peter taught: “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10).
  • What do ordinary Catholics do when they are not sure if their bishop or even their pope is good? Jennifer Fitz has a good answer:
    • We are Catholics ultimately because we are convinced that the Catholic faith is true.
    • And to this she adds, “Jesus Christ gave every Christian a mission to go and make disciples. Are you doing that? Are you actively praying, sacrificing, and working to bring others into a deeper, fuller relationship with God?”

The Homiletic Directory also suggests the following Catechism points and themes for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

  • CCC 551, 765: the call of the Twelve
  • CCC 541-543: Reign of God calls and gathers Jews and Gentiles
  • CCC 813-822: unity of the Church

(I have just learned that Pope Francis has declared the Third Sunday of Ordinary to be the Sunday of the Word of God. To learn more about this, click here.)






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