Those little people were walking in darkness and in the land of the deep shadow as Isaiah prophesied. The ancient territory of Zebulon and Naphtali was unique in the whole of the land God promised his people as it was surround by pagan nations. These people were constantly exposed to the influence of their neighbours who didn't follow faith and commitment to the one, true God.
Looking at our own situation here in Australia we can detect similar context. We are surrounded by those whose worldview doesn't correspond with the Devine Revelation we, Christians, treasure and pass on to others. We could complain that in terms of growing in faith, the Down Under isn't the desirable environment. However as we listen to and accept the Word of God this Sunday let's recognize our situation in relation to where Jesus began his ministry. The Lord went to the people who were most in danger of losing their faith.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers. Do not complain that it is not easy to be a follower of the Lord in Australia. Instead look at this Great South Land of the Holy Spirit as a field asking for laborers to proclaim the Good News of salvation to those whose life is lived in ignorance of what God has accomplished for them in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The calling of the first four disciples wasn’t a beginning of a new trade of specialized promoters of the new religion. In fact Jesus first message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand” found its fulfillment in the repentance, or better to say in METANOIA, which happened to Andrew and Simon, James and John. What was an indication that they had undergone that repentance that METANOIA, Jesus was proclaiming? Let’s listen to how Matthew speaks about that moment: Andrew and Simon “left their nets at once and followed him.” Similarly Jams and John: “at once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.” Their repentance, their METANOIA, was about Jesus Christ whom they accepted as the core, the center of their existence. St Matthew doesn’t tell us how much their life improved after that invitation they got from the young teacher but the author of the Gospel gives us the image of the four fishermen who with the sense of urgency followed Jesus. In a couple of years those men would go beyond their land of Zebulon and Naphtali to the countries and people where paganism was predominant. They would not lose their faith there. On the contrary they would be the protagonists of evangelization. They would be the ones telling others not about rules, regulations and ideas but about the person of the young teacher who called them from their boats in Galilee and who later underwent suffering, death, Resurrection and Ascension.
If the Providence has placed us in this secular society of Oz it wasn’t to inspire us to build fences and walls to keep us safe from the atheistic environment. We are sent to these sisters and brothers of ours who have no idea of the Good News which is the person of the Son of God, Jesus Christ and the invitation extended to all to enter into a life changing relationship with him.
I pray my Dear Fellow Believers that each one of us can see believing as the result of the encounter with Jesus Christ who approached us first. Then we followed and ended up where strong witness is much needed right now.