Sunday January 26, 2020 The 3rd Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle A)
The tie in between today’s readings: Trust and Obey
Psalm 27:1-4;13-14, Isaiah 9:1-3, 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, Matthew 4:12-23
In our reading Psalm 27, David starts off with, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The next 2 verses go on to cite potential threats against the king and his confidence in the Lord for His protection. All throughout the Bible, God repeatedly encourages us to, “Fear not,” The mountain of tranquilizers we consume in this country each year says that His message may not be getting through. So, what is fear, really? Basically, it’s lack of control. Whether it’s the economy, our health, or the Boogie Man under the bed, any situation that we can’t handle can become threatening. God wants us to have faith in Him for the outcomes in our lives when things get scary. We in the Church agree in principle. However, in real life, when the rubber meets the road, we tend to jettison the Almighty’s leading. We don’t trust that His plan for our happy ending will coincide with ours. There’s that control thing again…and the fear. We’ve got to let it go! But how?
Psalm 27:4-13 gives us some clues. Get to know God. Understand that He has the power, the knowledge, and the willing love to create the best life experience possible for us, even if it’s not how we would write the script. God’s got our backs! Develop the confidence that He’ll never abandon us. Our Father sent His Son to the cross so that we may become part of His family, no way is He going to drop us now! In every circumstance, pray and give control to His perfect will. Risk the situation on Him. Peace will follow. While we’re trusting…verse 14 ends the Psalm with the command to wait on the Lord.
Waiting on the Lord is not passive. It’s not like calling an Uber after a movie, where you hang out, get picked up, and taken home. It’s building your relationship with God and combining it with a patient, yet active preparation. It requires confession and repentance from sin, a move to prayer, and a readiness of faith for what we believe is the Lord’s next step for us. We also need the humility to change directions if God should prompt a left turn instead of right. Jesus gave us a good example of waiting on the Lord in today’s reading in Matthew 4:12-23.
First, we can see the cause and effect timing of Jesus’ actions. John is in prison. This is a sign for Jesus to go home to Nazareth, pick up where John left off, and start His ministry. There, He reveals Himself as the Messiah and His neighbors try to throw Him off a cliff (Luke 4:16-31). Hmmm…Capernaum is nice this time of year. He settles there to fulfill the next step in His ministry and prophesy noted in our reading in Isaiah 9:
But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land
of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later He shall make it glorious, by the
way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.2The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.
So, waiting on the Lord involves being open to circumstances and scripture as God moves things along in fulfilling His will.
Second, Jesus must pick and lead His disciples. This involves much prayer. Also, even though He is God, Christ is also human and needs develop His own personal leadership qualities over time to prepare for His mission: humility, conviction, compassion, good works, and more. Our reading in Matthew does not go into the back story of Jesus’ calling of Peter, Andrew, James and John, but if you combine the other gospel accounts and read between the lines, you can see that there were relationships built behind the scenes before He called them to become “fishers of men”. It was their commitment to Jesus Christ and His gospel message that caused this mish-mosh of men we call the Apostles to overcome their own common differences and live for something greater than themselves. The contrast to this is the quarrelling church in today’s reading in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17. Waiting on the Lord, in this case, involved practical preparations and building relationships in order to take the next step in God’s opening doors. So how do we apply this?
Remember, we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Strides in the Christian life are made by overcoming all fear through trust in God, which is done by cultivating our relationship with Him. Then patiently waiting, looking, and preparing for His next step in our lives. This will turn out to be a step into the unknown and another fear challenge to overcome. But He that promises to never leave us or forsake us also assures that all things work for good to those that love Him (Romans 8:28). This is not Pollyanna pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking. It’s rock solid scripture. We are not in control; God is. Let’s ditch the fear, lose our anxieties, walk by faith in Him, and live happily ever after.