A very belated post briefly covering the 3rd and 4th Sundays in Ordinary Time.
On the 3rd Sunday, the focus is on the beginning for Jesus’ public ministry. We begin with a passage from Isaiah — Isaiah 8:23-9:3. The second part of it speaks of those in darkness seeing light. That is also appropriately proclaimed at Midnight Mass on Christmas. But the first part, about the people of Galilee as the ones who are being rescued prepares us for Matthew’s account of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry — Matthew 4:12-23. This passage follows that about Jesus’ fasting and temptations, which followed his baptism, which was told of on the 3rd Sunday. Now we hear that in the region about which Isaiah had prophesied, Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit, begins to preach the kingdom of God, and as he does so he calls Peter, Andrew, James, and John to be his disciples. They will call people into the kingdom. In each case, their acceptance of the call is immediate. The second reading — 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17 — emphasizes that there is one gospel and, regardless of who preaches it, Jesus is the redeemer.
The message is that Jesus is the focus of ur faith, regardless of who our ecclesiastical leaders are and whose presentation of the gospel we admire. We are challenged to follow Jesus as wholeheartedly as the apostles did and to do our part in leading others to him.
We could call the 4th Sunday “Humility Sunday.” In the second reading — 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 — Paul reminds his hearers, including us, that earthly status isn’t important. What matters is that God has chosen us, no matter how insignificant we may be by earthly standards. In the gospel — Matthew 5:1-12a — Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount. He says that we are blessed (or happy, in some translations) when we are not attached to earthly goods, when we are grieved by the evils which beset people, when we are not self-exalting, when we want what is good before God, when we are compassionate toward others by our actions, when our hearts are not divided between God and earthly goods, when we seek to bring reconciliation of conflicts, when we endure ill-treatment for our faith. We look forward to the everlasting happiness of the life to come. When we live the Beatitudes, as Jesus did, we are the people of whom Zephaniah speaks in the first reading — Zephaniah 2:3, 3:12-13. We are the people who enjoy God’s favor.