January 22: The Third Sunday after the Epiphany

The Rev. Joseph Peters-Mathews is the vicar of St. Hilda St. Patrick. The sermon for January 22, 2023 was preached in response to Matthew 4.12-23 using the notes below as an outline.

  1. Who remembers the two main themes of the season after the epiphany? Jesus’ life and ministry and evangelism. We get both today.
  2. Transition text: lives are changed, disciples called, reader-disciples start being prepared for next Sunday: Sermon on the Mount.
  3. Two vignettes: Jesus withdrawing after John’s arrest and handing over (Jesus is later handed over) and Jesus calling disciples
  4. Matthew transposes the text from one situation of imperial aggression – heard this morning – to another as Israel now suffers under Rome’s imperial control. 
  5. on safe ground in assuming that Matthew’s quotation is intended to remind his readers that the preaching ministry begun by Jesus in Galilee in fulfillment of Scripture would eventually issue in the mission to the Gentiles
  6. That’s us. Epiphany season, extension with Magi knowing good news of the same God, us sharing that good news, Jesus’ direction in great commission
  7. Anna Case Winters: One of the first things Jesus does at this beginning of his ministry is to call disciples. He forms an alternative community to share in the work of preaching and showing forth the reign of God. Most rabbis did not seek out their students but rather were sought by them. Here, by contrast, all the initiative rests with Jesus.
  8. No build up. No laying ground work, no making any kind of symbolism. Just calling poor, precarious dudes.
  9. Anna Case Winters again: The call is unexpected, disruptive, and intrusive. The disciples are called from other good and important things—from work that sustains them and from families that love them. This new commitment may not break these relationships and obligations, but it will now take precedence.
  10. Rabbis didn’t call people. Students sought them out the way people seek gurus today. But Jesus calls them and calls us because of God’s overarching love for us.
  11. Douglas RA Hare, We choose to be present where he is proclaimed and his words studied. We choose to read the Gospels and ponder their significance. At a deeper level of our being, however, we acknowledge, if only in retrospect, that the reverse has been true. In all our searching we were being sought. The one whom we choose is the one who first chose us.
  12.  Thank you for being here. Be here, gathered, to be transformed, to be sent to the world.

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