Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Matthew 4:12-23
Jesus lived in a troubled world, a world that in many aspects was in worse shape than the one in which we live today. Justice was, in Jesus’ time, a joke. Tyrants lorded over everyone. Roman legions oppressed people while the Romans themselves lived in a great lie; lived in denial much as many in our world do today.
Into all of this God sent Jesus Christ to give us vision, to give us the faith, the hope, the love and the courage to make our world become everything God dreamed it could be when He created it in the first place. Jesus resolved to accomplish that purpose one life at a time. He knew that to make the world a better place in which to live, the people who comprise it must be better people. The mission of Christ was to make us responsible and to make us personally responsible for ourselves first. My first responsibility is to make something good and decent out of my life. Life, as the saying goes, is God’s gift to me, what I do with my life is my gift to God.
It all begins by each one of us loving ourselves enough to make something good out of ourselves. How you regard yourself determines how you will regard others. That is why Jesus told us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We can’t give what we don’t have, and if we don’t respect ourselves how can we respect others?
And so, if we want to change the world, are we willing first of all to change our own selves? How can I have the energy to change the huge systems surrounding us unless I at least have the energy to change myself?
The call of Jesus to twelve individuals, the call, the beginning of which we just heard about in today’s Gospel account, is not a call issued simply to twelve Jewish men over 2,000 years ago. It is an insistent call, an urgent call, a demanding call that comes down to us through 2,000 years in this Church of ours… to you, to you and me here, and now, to you and me today, who have been called by God to receive the Bread of Life from this altar and then to leave this church building on a mission. We are to leave here as those who are sent, sent along with the twelve apostles, to change the world by first changing our own lives.
St. Teresa of Avila once wrote: "Christ has no body on earth but ours, no hands but ours, no feet but ours. Ours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ looks out upon the world, ours are the feet with which He goes about doing good, ours are the hands with which He blesses His people."
The simple truth is that when we do in fact change our own lives to make it more Christ-like, we will have begun to change the whole world.