Monday after Epiphany, – Year B

Posté par diaconos le 4 janvier 2021

 lundi après l'Epiphanie, — Année B dans Catéchèse appel-des-4-premiers-disciples

Jesus calls his followers

# The Apostles, are the twelve disciples chosen by Jesus of Nazareth. According to Christian tradition, Jesus also distinguished seventy disciples, who later became bishops of a city. All these disciples preached the Good News, an expression that gave birth to the word gospel, after the texts were written in the years 65-100.

Paul of Tarsus was considered the thirteenth apostle by Christian tradition: he is called the Apostle of the Gentiles. Both Catholics and Orthodox consider the bishops to be the successors of the apostles, and attach particular importance to the fact that the bishops are in the apostolic succession, that the tradition to which they belong goes back to the apostles in the succession of persons and doctrines.

The theology of the Christian group formed around the Twelve is very vaguely known from the book of Acts of the Apostles, the speeches given to Peter at Pentecost or before the Sanhedrin. Christology is poorly developed. There is no significant break with official Judaism and nothing is found of the polemic attributed to Jesus against the Pharisees, the Sabbath and the offerings in the Temple.


From the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew

At that time, when Jesus learned of the arrest of John the Baptist, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and came to live in Capernaum, a city on the Sea of Galilee, in the territories of Zebulun and Naphtali. This was to fulfil the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, road of the sea and land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations !
The people who lived in darkness saw a great light. On those who dwelt in the land and the shadow of death a light has risen. From that moment on, Jesus began to proclaim : « Be converted, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. « 

Jesus travelled all over Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, healing every disease and infirmity in the people. His fame spread throughout Syria. They brought to him all those who were suffering, afflicted with diseases and torments of all kinds: possessed, epileptics, paralysed. And he healed them. Great crowds followed him, coming from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and across the Jordan River. (Mt 4:12-17.23-25).

The Ministry of Messiah

After the imprisonment of John the Baptist, Jesus withdrew to Galilee; he left Nazareth and settled in Capernaum; thus was fulfilled the promise made by Isaiah to the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, that a great light would rise upon it. Jesus, walking by the lake, saw Peter and Andrew, his brother, busy fishing; he called them to follow him, announcing that he would make them fishers of men ; they obeyed immediately. Further on, he met two other brothers, James and John, to whom he addressed the same vocation; and they, leaving everything, became attached to him.

Matthew gave a glimpse of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus travelled all over Galilee, preaching and healing. His fame spread throughout all Syria, the sick were brought to him from all sides, and great crowds followed him. Mark and Luke placed this return to Galilee immediately after the baptism and temptation of Jesus. Luke recounted his stay in Nazareth, which Matthew only indicated.

The Gospel of John expressly noted that John had not yet been put in prison. His intention was to rectify the confusion that had arisen in the tradition: « John also baptised in Enon, near Salim, because there was much water there ; and they came there to be baptised. « (Jn 3, 24) He then recounted a second return to Galilee through Samaria.  This return took place in December : « Don’t you say, ‘Four more months and it will be harvest’ ? And I say to you, Lift up your eyes and look at the fields that are already golden for the harvest. From now on » (Jn 4, 35).

It is obvious, says M. Godet, that these first two returns from Judea to Galilee were merged into one by our synoptics as they probably were in the tradition, which made almost all the facts that had separated them disappear in the ordinary narrative.

This confusion led the synoptics to bring together events from different periods. The mention of Jesus’ return to Galilee with the power of the Spirit, which he received in baptism and with which he overcame in the desert, refers to the first return. John’s imprisonment was the reason for the second return. This was followed by Jesus’ preaching in Nazareth and the transfer of Jesus’ home to Capernaum. Luke’s account gave the reason why Jesus left Nazareth, where he lived as a child with his parents : « He came to a city called Nazareth to fulfil the word of the prophets: He shall be called a Nazarene. « (Mt 2, 23).

Capharnaum thus bears the oldest manuscripts, and it was assumed that the name was formed from the Hebrew Caphar-Nachoum, which means « village of consolation », or, according to other interpreters, the town of Nahum, in allusion to the prophet of that name. This place is not known in the Old Testament, but it was, in the time of Jesus, a flourishing trading town, especially because, situated north-west of the Sea of Tiberias, or Lake Genezareth, it was on the road from Damascus to Ptolemais.

Jesus’ prediction was so well fulfilled that travellers and archaeologists still discussed the location of Capernaum. It is probably to be found in a place called Tell Houm, where a few huts built by Bedouin pillagers were found amidst many thorn-covered ruins, about a hundred steps from the lake.

Matthew also noticed that Capernaum was situated on the borders of the two tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali who occupied the north-west of Palestine. Freely quoted from the Hebrew and the Septuagint. Matthew only repeated, after the prophet, the names of these lands plunged into deep darkness and destined to see a great light soon.

This is the prophecy of Isaiah according to the Hebrew : « For it will not always be dark where anguish is now. As the first times covered the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with shame, so the last times will cover with glory the way to the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, the district of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness saw a great light; those who sat in the region of the shadow of death, the light shone upon them ».

Thus all the regions bordering on the Jordan to the east, and the sea to the west, and as far as the district or Galilee of the Gentiles, so called because it confined to the north to the pagan regions of Phoenicia, will share in the great light announced by the prophet. Matthew lives in the establishment of Jesus in Capernaum and in the ministry that he carried out in these half-heathen regions, the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

The historical and first meaning of this prediction was the deliverance of this oppressed country, often devastated by Israel’s frequent wars with the Syrians and later with the Assyrians. Matthew took particular pleasure in showing Jesus devoting his first works to the darkest and most miserable lands; it was the character of all his work to stoop down to the humblest and seek what was lost.

Some French versions (those of Rilliet, Edmond Stapfer, Pau-Vevey, Ostervald Revised and Lausanne rendered the first words of this passage with a vocative : « Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali !  » These words : on the way to the sea should not apply to the Sea of Tiberias, but they remind us that  the great route of the caravans that go from Damascus and Palmyra to the Mediterranean coast cuts, in its northern end, the basin of the lake of Genezareth.

One can imagine the prosperity of such a privileged region, and one is not too surprised by the immense population that seems to have accumulated there during the Roman domination. When Jesus, rejected by his fellow citizens, left Nazareth and came to stay by the Lake of Tiberias, it was not the charm of this nature and the delights of the climate that attracted him to this shore. The Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.

What undoubtedly attracted him were the large working and industrious populations, but absorbed in the gross interests of the earth; it was the wretched and wandering crowds, like sheep without a shepherd, for whom he was seized with compassion. Félix Bovet, Journey to the Holy Land, The word synagogue means meeting, assembly and, by extension, the place where one meets.

Since the exile, the synagogues remained in the synagogues, independently of the great solemn assemblies in the temple of Jerusalem, a cult which consisted mainly in reading and explaining the law and the prophets. Every Israelite qualified for this could speak there, with the permission of the presider of the assembly.

Jesus, and after him the apostles, frequently took this opportunity to proclaim the Gospel to their people : « He taught in the synagogues, and everyone praised him. « (Lk 4, 15) The good news of this kingdom of justice and peace which he had come to found on earth (compare Matthew 3:2, second note). Preaching and healing was Jesus’ action, and this is how he manifested himself as Saviour. And this was his double action in the moral world.

The Decapolis was a province beyond the Jordan River in north-east Palestine, with ten main cities. It was called Perea. Matthew took particular care to show the large crowds that followed Jesus; they formed the audience for Jesus « s speech.

Deacon Michel Houyoux

Links to other Christian websites

◊ Ventura Missionnery Church : click here to vieuw the video →  Jesus Calls His Followers to be the Salt of the Earth

◊ Kevin Ruffcorn Ministries : click here to read the paper → Jesus Calls His Disciples

Brendan McLaughlin – The Doctrine of Praise

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