Light in the Darkness - Come after me and I shall make you fishers of men - Gospel, Matthew 4:12-23

Say, Let me quote in full - "12 Hearing that John had been arrested he withdrew to Galilee, 13 and leaving Nazara he went and settled in Capernaum, beside the lake, on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: 15 Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali! Way of the sea beyond Jordan. Galilee of the nations! 16 The people that lived in darkness have seen a great light; on those who lived in a country of shadow dark as death a light has dawned. 17 From then onwards Jesus began his proclamation with the message, 'Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.' 18 As he was walking by the Lake of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast into the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, 'Come after me and I will make you fishers of people.' 20 And at once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there he saw another pair of brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they were in their boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 And at once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him. 23 He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing all kinds of disease and illness among the people." The key words are - 'The people that lived in darkness have seen a great light; on those who lived in a country of shadow dark as death a light has dawned.' and "Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand." and "Come after me and I will make you fishers of people." and 'And at once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.' Before I begin, allow me to quote from the 2nd reading the part from Corinthians 1:17 - 'For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the Good News, and not to reach the Good News in the terms of philosophy in which the crucifixion of Christ cannot be explained.' This simply means two things. Firstly, no human being born of the flesh can baptise you with the Holy Spirit. The way this is done by the Pentecostals and Evangelists and New Age Prosperity Christians is pure nonsense. Only a Spirit can baptise you with the 'spirit' or in the 'spirit'. We cannot repeat the Day of the Pentecost! That is history! Like St Paul we can only spread the Good News! And in spreading the Good News we must not spread with literal worldly knowledge. To spread with spiritual fervour or vigour we need to have spiritual light or spiritual insight or knowledge. That leads us to better understand today's gospel reading about Jesus being the Light in the Darkness. Our human world of the sons of Adam is darkness, no matter how bright or good we might see the human world with worldly eyes or worldly knowledge. The crucifixion of Christ or the resurrection of Christ or God the Spirit Father or Heaven or Salvation cannot be explained literally in worldly terms or grasped or conceived with a worldly mind. Otherwise you would be doubting the veracity of the words of St. Paul. When it is said that a great light has dawned in the darkness, it is not referring to Jesus in the flesh as Son of Man but to Jesus as the Light being the Spirit Son of God. The Light came to 'light' up our human lives. That does not mean that Jesus came to make our worldly lives better or brighter but to light up the 'spirit' in us, the spirit son of God in us. Otherwise, Jesus would have ended up leading the insurrection by the Jews against the Romans. That was how the Jews wished Jesus as the Light to make their worldly lives better. We can only escape from the darkness that we are metaphorically in not by following the Light of Jesus literally our capacity as mere mortals but by being enlightened as light so that we then in spiritual terms shine in the darkness in our own right. We are not talking of worldly darkness as like night contrasts with day! There is no other rational or logical way to run away from spiritual darkness, when that darkness is the web of deceit of Satan that he spun that sent Adam into exile, that gave Adam an ego, that made a mortal being of Adam when he was and is eternal from the beginning of Creation. the best way to illustrate this symbolically is the rite at Easter Vigil, where after the church is shrouded in darkness after all the

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lights are turned off, the large sacramental candle is used to light up each individual small candle held by each practitioner, until the entire church and congregation is lit up. Repentance is in that sense to light up your 'spirit', to awaken in your spirit son of God, to be a light just as Jesus is a Light, to be a son of God just as Jesus is a Son of God and not as we think to worldly judge as to what we humans do is in worldly terms right or wrong or good or bad. It is in this sense that when we repent, that the Kingdom of God is close at hand. We should therefore be striving in the spiritual direction of 'light to Light' rather than in the worldly journey of death of 'ashes to ashes'! Once you understand this you will realise that the Kingdom of God is indeed immediately and instantly close at hand. You do not have to measure that 'close at hand' in worldly terms of inches or miles or indeed days or months or years. Eternity that is of the spirit has no reckoning of time the way humans do! You can be a light like the Light of Jesus in the spiritual darkness here and now! When Jesus said to the Apostles that he would make them fishers of men, he was speaking metaphorically. Take the instant in John 21:6 where he directed Peter - "Cast the net on the right side of the boat and you will find some (fish)." That was also spoken metaphorically. The emphasis is on the adjective 'right' as against wrong rather than 'right' as against 'left'. To fish men to light up their lives as in spreading the Good News you have to be practically and spiritually wise, for that is doing it 'right', for you cannot light a candle with a wick that is 'wet' metaphorically speaking when the conditions are not right. Not everyone in their darkness of a 'goat' can be made to discard their goat clothing so as to reveal that they are in fact sheep in goat's clothing. That part about the Apostles immediately leaving their jobs (nets) and families to follow Jesus to preach the Good News suggests that the fishers of men have to be men who are celibate and have avowed poverty; that they are no longer attached to this world, to their families or to making a worldly living. That is why I am truly glad to be a Catholic. we have priests! I was blessed today because I had the privilege and honour to attend St Francis Xavier Church at Jalan Gasing in Petaling Jaya (I am back in KL for Chinese New Year) and listen to Father Alberto's sermon on today's gospel reading. Father Alberto spoke of the Light of Jesus in the Darkness as giving us the opportunity to come out of the darkness and step into the Light. He spoke of repentance as getting back into consummate spirituality (what a beautiful way of describing the spirit son of God or the light or spirit on of God in us!) from self-righteousness and self-gratification (what an accurate way to describe the need to be humble and egoless) and go about having a relationship and interaction with others with spiritual vigour, and to see light and hope in every opportunity and turning point (earlier he explained how Jesus took the imprisonment of John the Baptist as a turning point so as to start preaching), in others and in finding God in every other human person, and in the face of every child. Father Alberto surely has a talent for beautiful and profound phrases! He spoke of stepping out of self-obsession as like stepping out of darkness into light and of every turning point in life as like a signpost, like a light in the darkness. Thank you graciously Father Alberto. Chuan 26/1/14

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