Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.”
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
For as much as the four Gospels share the story of Jesus in common, each of them offers its own distinct set of emphases. Matthew, whose Gospel we follow during Ordinary Time this year, was interested in showing that Jesus’ life and ministry were consistent with his Jewish upbringing. So Matthew repeatedly depicts Jesus’ life as fulfilling Old Testament passages, as in today’s Gospel.
Citations like these can seem painfully dull (and often not easy to follow during Mass, either). And few today would look to such “proofs” of Jesus’ identity as a source of solace or confidence in our faith. So Jesus went to the region of Zebulun and Napthali—big whoop!
And yet, what Matthew was responding to was the instinct to dismiss Jesus because he didn’t fit community expectations. And that impulse remains alive and well today. Consciously and unconsciously, we too have our expectations of what being “a good Christian” looks like, who is and isn’t one, even what Jesus asks of us. But how often do we go back to God and ask, do I have this right?
In the midst of our busy lives, it’s hard not to make snap judgments. From time to time it’s good to step back and ask, who doesn’t get a place at my table right now? Who am I dismissing? Because who knows, it might just be Jesus.
—Fr. Jim McDermott, S.J., a Wisconsin province Jesuit, is an accomplished professional screenwriter who lives at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles,CA.
Lord, with so much pressing upon us, it is really difficult not to dismiss others because of our commitments. How many dear friends have we “dismissed” because we are too busy to check in with them? Slow us down. Let us put relationships, kindness, and presence before our agenda that forgets we live for you through our attention to others.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!