7 January
Mt 4:12-17, 23-25

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, 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.’
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. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

Today’s reading records the moment when Jesus left his home town, never to live there again.  In Luke’s gospel it is clearer that this decision was due to his experience of rejection at Nazareth (Lk 4:30, 31).  His townspeople tried, you remember, to throw him over a cliff because he said things they didn’t like to hear.  It is clear, however, that he was not embittered by this.  Bitter people like to proclaim bad news, or when they proclaim good news there is some bitter echo in it.  But he “went around all Galilee… proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom.”  It was their loss.  Nathanael was surprised when he heard that Jesus was from Nazareth, “From Nazareth?” he said, “Can anything good come from that place?” (Jn 1:46).  There is no bitterness like small-town bitterness.  It is small and intimate, it penetrates to the roots.  But those townspeople could not infect him with their bitterness; it was they who remained bitter. 

Yet they were able to rob him of some of his power.  “He could work no miracle there” (Mk 6:5).  Not only Nazarenes but all of us have the power to poison the well of life and to stop miracles from happening.  And we do it best in our own place – perhaps even in our family. 



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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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