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Landing and Soaking In (Mt. 4: 12-25)

A Christmas card I received has God speaking these words: “My light hovers over you searching for a place to land. I want you to let my light soak into your mind and heart.”

These phrases came to mind when reading in St. Matthew (4:12-25) about the day Jesus left his home town and “came into the land of Zebulon and Naphtali.” These were the dark regions which Isaiah prophesied would see a great light, the somber places overshadowed by death out of which that great brilliance would arise. And it’s in the glow of that promised light that Jesus’ preaching and curing begins.

What Jesus does is look for places for that light to land — and then have it penetrate. In some situations the light is blocked and so bounces off. In other places it not only sets itself down but begins to soak into peoples’ minds and hearts.

That double action of the light, landing and then sinking in, provides an underlying clue to the whole direction of Jesus’ ministry. He searches for receptive places in which to drop the light-filled seeds of his Kingdom — and then he nurtures them so that their light can begin to penetrate.

Isn’t this what followers like St. Vincent were always trying to do: find some landing place for God’s Word and then do what’s possible to let it take root. For him, the drop zone was the world of the poor, both the poor ones themselves and those who had eyes to notice and value them. And doesn’t all the creativity, energy and labors of his many projects describe this Divine Light as it’s soaking in to his time and place?

Isn’t that what any proclaimer of the Gospel sets out to do, find the receptive place and then nourish what gets planted there.

Think of believers today who search their world for areas of openness to Jesus’ message — the evangelizers on college campuses, the spiritual writers whose words strike chords in hearts, the preachers who weave believable connections between the gospel and the rest of life. Think of Pope Francis who is always looking for gospel openings in today’s world — the environment, economic systems, the thirst for joy. Think even of the current scandals in the Church which in a reverse and even painful way are opening up new paths of reform and hopefully also ways to grow that reform.

So God says, “My light hovers over you searching for a place to land. I want my light to soak into your mind and heart.” Isn’t this Jesus setting out from Nazareth on his mission? Isn’t this each of us trying to follow behind, going forth and doing likewise?


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