Jesus Christ First!


Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 8:23-9:3

I Corinthians 1:10-13, 17

Matthew 4:12-23 

Our country celebrated the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as our 45 President. In his speech he made promises and we hope that he will be able to make those promises come true. One thing he said, that I want to use, and twist a little because for me it is the theme that runs through our readings today at that is “Christ first!” We need to make Christ first in our Catholic lives. I looked at a penny on my dresser this morning, and read “In God we trust” I thought I hope so! Our readings are an inauguration of the ministry of Jesus Christ.  

St. Paul’s in his inaugural address to the Corinthians begins with “I urge you in the name of Jesus Christ.” This is paramount, it is all about Jesus Christ! This is a community that Paul founded, and they were doing very well when he was there but he has left and given the authority over to others, and now there is great division and Paul is writing and saying, “This is has got to stop!” Paul is writing them and letting them know that these divisions are pulling the body of Christ apart. The mission of the body of Christ is that each member is ready to pour out their life for the community. Think about the divisions in our own lives. Imagine what would happen if all those involved in those divisions would dedicate themselves to solving those divisions in Christ?  Imagine what our community would like if we set aside our judgments and saw each other as children of God. 

Jesus begins his inaugural speech with the words “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Now, this is a huge statement is needs some of our attention. The word “repent” for Jesus does not just mean, “I am sorry.” What Jesus means by the word “repent” is a totally new direction. A totally new way of thinking and acting. 

When the gospel writer Matthew uses the word “heaven” this is a code word for God. Matthew is writing to Jewish converts, they were not to speak the name of God. So Matthew uses the word “heaven” to mean God. What this means is when Jesus says, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” what he means is, be aware of God in our lives right now, because he is right here. Matthew is not talking about a future tense, but about a present tense. 

Jesus is now ready to have others join him in his mission. Jesus goes to the seashore and calls Peter, Andrew, James and John with the words, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” All four of these men dropped their nets and followed Jesus Christ. How amazing is that? The security they left behind was made up by the security of living for Jesus Christ and learning to love him first. 

We can sit here today and say, “I do not need to do anymore, I am holy enough.” This was the response of the Pharisees, they were the ones who said, “Jesus we do not need you, we are holy enough.” My friends in Christ, is our Catholic faith just a nice idea, a comfort in difficult times or is it the only thing that makes sense in our life? We need to make this decision for ourselves, but also in this community. May we not just try to fit Jesus into our way of life, but it is about fitting our way of life into the mission of Jesus Christ. Let’s make Jesus Christ first in our lives.


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