Christmas Tide (7th January, 2019)
First Reading: 1 Jn 3:22 – 4:6
Gospel: Mt 4:12-17, 23-25
Today’s gospel brings for the picture of actual purpose of the ministry of Jesus our Lord. The gospel demonstrates the core message of Jesus, “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand”. It is the message which the Gospel of Mark describes saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news” (Mk 1:14-15). It is the message towards which the precursor of Jesus, John the Baptist was inviting the people to as he proclaimed saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Mt 3:2). Here the call to repentance is the primary aspect of ministry of Jesus.
We later part of today’s Gospel turns our attention to another aspect of Jesus’ ministry namely the signs and wonders he performed through curing many sick. This, of course, does not take precedence over his primary aspect of his ministry namely the repentance of hearts in preparation for kingdom of God. Jesus was, surely, not just miracle performer.
We find the secondary nature of signs and wonders he performed in several instances of the Gospels. For instance, were Simon and other disciples came to Jesus to encourage Him in his ministry of healing saying that many people were looking for Him obviously to get some comforts of physical or material from him, Jesus decided to leave Capernaum, go further instead of confining himself to perform miracles there. So he says, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do” (Mk 1:38). Similarly, he says, “So he continued proclaiming message in the synagogues of Judea” (Lk 4:44).
This clearly points out that Jesus’ mission was to gather His people for God’s kingdom. The signs and wonder were only means for people to experience God’s blessings and love upon them and not end in themselves. People experienced God’s forgiveness and love along with miracles. When Jesus cures the paralytic, He said to him, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mk 2:5). It is so in several other instances too. Jesus’ intervention to cure people were not merely for the sake of giving cure of physical infirmity but spiritual blessing ending up or shown in physical cure especially the release of bondage from evil spirit led to physical comfort or cure. So, atonement for sins and their forgiveness was necessarily important aspect of his ministry. Without atonement and forgiveness, no good news can be preached or received. This is the good news we need to experience as well as shore with others. When we repent for our sins and accept His good news, we do experience cure of our illness and bondage too. Amen.