Alternative Prayer (ICEL 1998 )
God of salvation,
the splendour of your glory
dispels the darkness of earth,
for in Christ we behold
the nearness of your kingdom.
Now make us quick to follow where he beckons,
eager to embrace the tasks of the gospel.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.
In the former time God brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness-on them light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder.
The Lord is my light and my help;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
before whom shall I shrink? (R./)
There is one thing I ask of the Lord,
for this I long,
to live in the house of the Lord,
all the days of my life,
to savour the sweetness of the Lord,
to behold his temple. (R./)
I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren. What I mean is that each one of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apol'los," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, 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."
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea-for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John , in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. 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.
When Jesus began his public ministry of preaching and healing, John the Baptist had already been arrested, putting and end to his movement of religious revival. At that point, instead of goingback to Nazareth (i.e. instead of going home), Jesus went to Capernaum. This marked a new beginning, whose purpose is described in a verse of prophecy: “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who lived in the land of the shadow of death, light has dawned.” Jesus would later refer to himself as the light of the world; and, in commissioning his disciples, he would tell send us out also, to be light to the world. His vocation is our vocation too.
In times past the idea of “vocation” was focussed mainly on doctors, nurses, priests and religious. But now it has been restored to its original, wider application, and all our baptised people are invited to experience their calling from God. There is nothing dramatic about this. It just means that I don’t just stumble into the Christian way by default, but that God has chosen me: “I have called you by name; you are mine.” “You didn’t choose me; no, I chose you, and I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that would remain.” If the gospel is now, and I am every person in the gospel, then, through the gospel of today, I am being called again.
The original message of Jesus was like that of John the Baptist. “Turn from your sins, and back turn to God, because the kingdom of heaven is near.” Turning away from sins is a voluntary act, which can be reversed. There is a story to illustrate that point. When Leonardo da Vinci was asked to do a painting of the Last Supper, he searched far and wide for models for each person in the scene. He found a fine-looking young man, full of vitality, as the perfect model for Jesus. In the following months he did the same for models for each of the apostles, leaving Judas till last, not knowing how to represent him. Finally, he came across a tramp whom he thought was ideal for the part. Leonardo brought him to his studio, but hile the work was in progress, he came to a shocking realisation. This man had been with him months before, representing Jesus. In the meantime he had taken to drink and lost his way, and was now homeless. It was a shock to Leonardo, and a prod to conversion for the man who modeled as Judas.