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‘He went throughout Galilee…’

‘Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people’. 

After the Sunday of All Saints, our Church reminds us that everything we saw happening during the period of the Triodio and the Pentikostario now implies our own participation. Everything starts from the beginning again, in the world in which we live. And it’s no accident that the first Sunday Gospel reading after All Saints helps us to understand this great truth.

After his baptism, Christ began his mission of redemption in the world. His first move, before he addressed people at large, was to call those who would accompany him in his mission, the twelve disciples. This is an important point. As God and human, Jesus had the power to do whatever he wanted, to speak to people’s hearts even if he wasn’t physically present. But he didn’t do so. He followed the path of everyone who wants to get across a message. He communicated and invited. It wasn’t merely a forecast of what would happen after his Ascension. It’s the fact that every task requires a leader and collaborators. That’s how things work with us humans. And, apart from being perfect God, Christ was also perfect human.

But there’s also something else we should note. Christ went ‘throughout the whole of Galilee’. He didn’t start of from Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, where the religious leadership considered it a given that it would guide people through its own presence, supervision and authority. He started out from a region where religious observance wasn’t unified. There were both Jews and idolaters. There were ‘saints’ and sinners. Some were loyal to the God of the Old Testament and others had no connection to him at all, but worshipped idols, that is the false gods which the law of Moses expressly prohibited people from believing in. There were superstitious people who followed a variety of cults, as well as mixed marriages, which threatened the purity of the Israelite people. The capital scorned Galilee. But the disciples whom Christ selected were Galileans. In other words, Christ didn’t choose people who would follow the official religious order, but rather people towards whom the stance of the religious leadership would have been one of derision. ‘But God chose the foolish things of this world in order to shame the wise’. (1 Cor. 1, 27).

What his this to do with today’s reality?

In the first place, let’s keep in mind that the Gospel message isn’t for the few but for everyone. Let’s not barricade ourselves behind any sort of religious self-sufficiency. Let’s not think that, because we know it, the path to the Kingdom is only for us and those like us. Christ often chooses the last people you’d expect. The duty of Christians is to bear witness to faith in the resurrection and love, as far as we’re able. And let’s not, with our own certainties and infallibilities, keep the gate of heaven shut to others who are ‘sinful’, ‘rotten’, ‘unclean’ and not like us.

In the second place, at no time has there been any suspension of the call of God for people to follow him, now will there ever be. There aren’t any ‘rotten’ eras. There are people who are receptive and others who aren’t. The era doesn’t make the person. It may influence people, but we’re born at a particular time because God allows it to be so. Therefore it’s no good whining and complaining that people were better back in the day, and yearning for a return to the past. If the Church thinks with yesterday as its criterion, then it’s lost today and is undermining tomorrow- in human terms, because God can change everything. The fact that Christ chose people representative of that time to accompany him demonstrates that faith is a gift which transcends time, conditions, priorities and faults. It’s a free, personal invitation. And Christ doesn’t appear in the world by magic, but through people. So will we be receptive to his call?

Thirdly, his disciples responded clearly in the affirmative to what Jesus asked. They made his person and the mission he asked them to undertake with him their priority, and, with confidence in him, left behind the task of survival. A relationship demands sacrifice. It demands renunciation. It demands trust. If this is true for us in our human relationships, how much more does it apply to our relationship with God? Renunciation doesn’t mean sadness, however, but rather joy. This is the beautiful, paradoxical and blessed meaning of our encounter with Christ.

Let us experience this encounter in our own times. The culture in which we live is of no consequence. By all means let’s recognize its features, but it’s not what’s going to save or destroy us. Christ’s love is the path to salvation, the way to the ‘good alteration’, the road that leads each of us, and other people, to the joy of a life with meaning, a life with better quality and prospects. Let’s make our way without fear in this world and glorify God that he not only allows an encounter, but even instigates it, with us and the others who bring to us the message of the kingdom of heaven, sometimes through their words, sometimes deeds, sometimes silence but always through love.