Psalms in the Lectionary
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3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A 2017

Psalms in the Lectionary
3rd  Sunday in Ordinary Time  Cycle A 1/22/2017
Isaiah 8:23—9; Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17;
Matthew 4:12-23 
Psalm 27 is also a two part psalm like last week with Psalm 40.  While psalm 40 was part thanksgiving and part lament or cry for help, Psalm 27 is a psalm of trust, and then the lament, and then back once more to trust.  In Psalm 27, the first six verses are an expression of confidence; verses 7-12 are the lament and then it switches back to confidence in verses 13-14.  Since we are only singing verse 1 and 4 and then skipping to verses 13-14, our entire hymn today falls in the trust category.  The opening lines, “The Lord is my light and my salvation” also parallel psalm 23, with “The Lord is my shepherd,” and these two psalms are two of the few places in the Hebrew Scriptures where the possessive pronoun is used: my shepherd, my light, my salvation.  There is a beautiful flow of rhythm in this psalm and a lyrical cadence in verse four, with “one thing I ask of the Lord, that will I seek after, to live in the house of the Lord, all the days of my life”.  To gaze on the loveliness of the LORD is to gaze on the face of the Lord.  Verses 13-14 finish with the closing prayer of confidence once more: “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord…be strong, let your heart take courage, wait for the Lord.”  Pope John Paul II gave a general audience on April 24, 2004 in which he offered some comments on this psalm.  He described the first part of the psalm as “marked with a deep tranquility, based on trust in God”.  With the arrival of Jesus and the beginning of his public ministry, a deep tranquility is being offered to the human race.  We mark the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time this weekend, recalling those early days of Jesus’ public ministry.  The first reading from Isaiah speaks of the land of Zebulun and Napthali, where the people walked in darkness until a great light shone forth when all the people’s burdens were lifted.  In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus, after hearing of John the Baptist’s arrest, withdraws to the land of Capernaum by the sea in the same region of Zebulun and Napthali.  He recounts the same story that the light will make the difference, but in telling the people that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, he is telling them that the light has arrived.  He then goes about choosing those who will follow him and begin the work of the kingdom.  Paul’s letter to the Corinthians scolds the Corinthians for any divisiveness and cautions them to be of one mind, for we all belong to Christ Jesus.  The readings today are about the beginnings of the kingdom with Jesus’ first actions.  He calls his followers to be “fishers of men” and then goes about all of Galilee teaching in the synagogues and curing the people of every disease and illness.  Psalm 27 is a direct response to Jesus’ invitation to come dwell in the House of the Lord.  We are invited to discover that deep tranquility by placing all our trust in him. 
The refrain is taken from verse one of the psalm: 
 “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”
verse 1:
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
verse 4:
One thing I ask of the LORD’
this I seek;
to dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.
verses 13-14:
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage,
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
Today’s first reading from Isaiah (8:23—9:3) describes the barrenness of the lands of Zebulun and Napthali before the light came upon the people.
First the LORD degraded the land of Zebulun and the land of Napthali; but in the end he has glorified the seaward road, the land west of the Jordan, the district of the Gentiles.  Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness, for there is no gloom where but now there was distress.  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.  You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, as they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as people make merry when dividing spoils.  For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
The Gospel from Mathew (4:12-23) recounts how Jesus first departs to the lands of Zebulun and Napthali when he hears of John the Baptist’s arrest, and then he begins to call his disciples, teach in the synagogues and cure people of all their illnesses.
When Jesus heard that john had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.  He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Napthali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled:
Land of Zebulun and land of Napthali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.
From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
[As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.  He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  At once they left their nets and followed him.  He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother, John.  They were in a boat, with their father, Zebedee, mending their nets.  He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.  He went around all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.]
The second reading from 1 Corinthians (1:10-13, 17) has Paul scolding the Corinthians a bit for their divisiveness.  He calls on them to be united in mind for they all belong to Christ Jesus.
I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.  For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you.  I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to Paul,” 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 the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.
Psalm 27 is a beautiful hymn of confidence and trust and tranquility that preaches the gospel: the light has arrived and has dispelled the darkness.