MT 4:12-17


At the ordination of a young priest in a remote, mountainous area, the bishop of the place greeted guests coming from the city with the words: I’m so glad you could come to this godforsaken place! These words did not surprise the guests, for travelling to that place was a tortuous task and only their love for the young priest impelled them to venture that far.


Godforsaken place! People will normally not go willingly to a place that is rustic, undeveloped, and almost unreachable. People will definitely not go willingly to a place that offers no promise, reeks with bad reputation, and has no historical or cultural value. Perhaps a place like that in the past was the region called Galilee. In the gospel today, the descriptions of the place are grim: a place of darkness, a place of death, a place for pagans (Gentiles)!


But to Galilee Jesus went for his public ministry. And in Galilee, Jesus stayed. Most of his miracles were done in Galilee, most of his preaching occurred in Galilee. He met with closest friends in Galilee. When he rose from the dead, the told the women to relay to his apostles, “I will meet you in Galilee.” Through the example of Jesus, we can see how God prefers the “road less travelled”; how the Lord prefers to explore the margins, the sideways, the dirt road.


Galilee was a place distant from Jerusalem, the center of power. It was not only geographically far, but also spiritually and politically far from the center. Jesus, who came to bring light, knew that it was needed in the place. As he came to offer new life, he knew the place was the perfect spot. Sent to gather the lost, Jesus felt the people of Galilee were just the right people to call back to God.


As we return to ordinary time, the gospel reminds us that the Lord visits Galilee throughout history. He walks through the places avoided by most because of hardship, remoteness and underdevelopment. He dwells among the people who know they are not perfect and yet they are waiting for the attention and love of someone to teach, heal and restore them. Each one of us has a Galilee within us, not a physical space, but an area of life that needs the light and life, the words and embrace, the joy and peace of Christ.


What is that area of your life you consider shameful, dirty, bad, or unworthy? Invite Jesus to visit that interior place. Tell Jesus how much you need him there. Allow Jesus to touch you and bring you the light and love of God.


#ourparishpriest 2023