Voices ever ancient, ever new. Christmas Weekday, Monday after Epiphany 2014.

“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles ...” (Matthew 4:15)

In an ancient work known as the Incomplete Work on Matthew, an anonymous ancient Christian writer offers the following insight on this verse from today’s Gospel:

“As history teaches us, these tribes were the first to cross over into Babylonia. It is appropriate therefore that all those whom the wrath of God has struck should first be visited by God’s mercy and those who have been led into bodily captivity should first be brought back from spiritual captivity. “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.” Jews also were sitting in darkness. Even though they were under the law, God’s justice was not being manifested. Although justice was there, it had been covered over with certain figures and mysteries of carnal things. What light of justice is there in circumcision? Indeed the darkness was especially poignant under the law, which was given more to punish the hardness of our hearts than to actually bring about righteousness. As the Lord said, “For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.” The law was not given to save but to chastise them. The law blinded them, so that, inebriated with the law, they were unable to see the great light, Christ, when he came.

There indeed were many lights among the Jews: Moses and Aaron and Joshua and the judges and prophets were all lights. Every teacher is a light to them, whom he enlightens by teaching, as is written: “You are the light of the world.” But Christ is the great light. In the region and shadow of death were seated the Gentiles, either because they were committing iniquities or because they were worshiping idols and demons, the worship of which was leading them to everlasting death.” (Homily 6)

O God,
Whose eternal Word adorns the face of the heavens
yet accepted from the Virgin Mary the frailty of our flesh,
grant, we pray,
that he who appeared among us as the splendor of truth
may go forth in the fullness of power
for the redemption of the world.
Who lives and reigns with
You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to You Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning is now
and will be forever. Amen. Alleluia!