Sunday Bible Reflections
Jesus came among us as light to scatter the darkness of a fallen world.
As His disciples, we too are called to be “the light of the world,” He tells us in the Gospel this Sunday (see John 1:4–4, 9; 8:12; 9:5).
All three images that Jesus uses to describe the Church are associated with the identity and vocation of Israel.
In the readings since Christmas, Jesus has been revealed as the new royal son of David and Son of God. He is sent to lead a new exodus that brings Israel out of captivity to the nations and brings all the nations to God.
As Moses led Israel from Egypt through the sea to give them God’s law on Mount Sinai, Jesus too has passed through the waters in baptism. Now, in today’s Gospel, He goes to the mountain to proclaim a new law—the law of His Kingdom.
The Beatitudes mark the fulfillment of God’s covenant promise to Abraham—that through his descendants all the nations of the world would receive God’s blessings (see Genesis 12:3; 22:18).
Today’s Liturgy gives us a lesson in ancient Israelite geography and history.
Isaiah’s prophecy in today’s First Reading is quoted by Matthew in today’s Gospel. Both intend to recall the apparent fall of the everlasting kingdom promised to David (see 2 Samuel 7:12–13; Psalm 89; 132:11–12).
Eight centuries before Christ, that part of the kingdom where the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali lived was attacked by the Assyrians, and the tribes were hauled off into captivity (see 2 Kings 15:29; 1 Chronicles 5:26).
Jesus speaks through the prophet Isaiah in today’s First Reading.
He tells us of the mission given to Him by the Father from the womb: “‘You are My servant,’ He said to Me.” Servant and Son, our Lord was sent to lead a new exodus—to raise up the exiled tribes of Israel, to gather and restore them to God. More than that, He was to be a light to the nations, that God’s salvation may reach to the ends of the earth (see Acts 13:46–47).
An “epiphany” is an appearance. In today’s readings, with their rising stars, splendorous lights, and mysteries revealed, the face of the child born on Christmas day appears.
Herod, in today’s Gospel, asks the chief priests and scribes where the Messiah is to be born. The answer Matthew puts on their lips says much more, combining two strands of Old Testament promise—one revealing the Messiah to be from the line of David (see 2 Samuel 2:5), the other predicting “a ruler of Israel” who will “shepherd his flock” and whose “greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth” (see Micah 5:1–3).
Underlying the wisdom offered in today’s Liturgy is the mystery of the family in God’s divine plan.
The Lord has set father in honor over his children and mother in authority over her sons, we hear in today’s First Reading. As we sing in today’s Psalm, the blessings of the family flow from Zion, the heavenly mother of the royal people of God (see Isaiah 66:7, 10–13; Galatians 4:26).
Today we give thanks to Mary, the Mother of God. Her response to the angel, born of a humble heart, brought us life and salvation in the Child conceived in her womb.
From before all ages, God had destined her for this decisive role in salvation history. She was to be the woman who in the fullness of time would bear God’s only Son, as Paul tells us in today’s Epistle.