By Camel or Boat, Bewildered or Awed We Go For as Witnesses
The gospels this final week of Christmas season show various manifestations of Jesus’ power, not unlike the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary. Matthew who tells the story of the Magi taking the good news of the newborn King of the Jews to their lands, will end his gospel telling the disciples to make disciples of all the nations, baptizing and teaching, and knowing that Jesus is with us until the end of time. We who have stood before the mystery of the Incarnation like those wise men, are reminded of our work for the reign of God.
To begin this week we read in Matthew of Jesus going throughout the land and healing every type of illness, and proclaiming that the reign of God is at hand. Tomorrow is the parallel reading from Luke when Jesus inaugurates his ministry, reading in the synagogue from the scroll of the prophet Isaias, ‘to free the captive and to bring sight to the blind’.
The reading of the multiplication of the bread is a manifestation of Jesus that combines Jesus’ teaching with his sharing the bread, like the Eucharist, both the word of God and the body of Christ. The story continues today as Jesus meets his disciples on a stormy sea, rowing with the wind in their face, in darkness surrounding them – a situation that resonates with their mental attitude, ‘they were utterly bewildered, for they had not understood the meaning of the loaves, but rather their heart was hardened’. Note the collective response, ‘their heart’.
We missed the reading from John of the wedding at Cana this year as part of our post-Christmas readings due to the unfolding of the calendar, but we hear in our final weekday reading that Jesus is the bridegroom in our midst. Our bridegroom’s heart will never harden, and we are invited to grow our hearts to the size of his!
The Christmas season has filled us with the gift of the Father’s love, Mary’s emptiness, a baby who is the God-hero, gift and surprise. The Passion too we have seen in the shadows. In the fullness of the reign of God the sun will be no more, it is not necessary since the light of God will be our light. And the medicinal leaves of the trees by the abundant water of the Heavenly City will bloom each month – we won’t need refills! – so we will be full of life and new energy. Let us hold onto the joy of the Incarnation as we go now to live, proclaim and share the reign of God that is the privileged work before us.
Fr. William Murphy, CP is the pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Jamaica, New York.