<p>This week we reflect on the readings for this week in year A, which is the third Sunday in Epiphany: Isaiah 9:1-4; 1st Corinthians 1:10-18 and Matthew 4:12-23.</p>
Is Christ divided? or, literally, ‘Has Christ been parcelled out?’ (13). Paul is asking the Corinthians, with all their division, ‘Do you suppose that there are fragments of Christ that can be distributed among different groups? If you have Christ, you have all of him. Jesus cannot be divided.’ We cannot have half a person, as though we said: ‘Please come in, but leave your legs outside.’ This, incidentally, throws light on such common phrases as ‘wanting more of Christ’. It cannot be: we should rather be allowing Christ to have more of us. We are the disintegrated ones whom Christ is gradually making whole, so that we become more like him—integrated and entire. The same argument applies to wanting more of the Holy Spirit. If he is personal, a Person, than we either have him living within us or we do not; again, our desire and prayer should be for the Holy Spirit to have more of us.
The phrase “from that time Jesus began” (v. 17) is followed by the infinitive “to preach.” The identical phrase appears again in 16:21, this time with the infinitive “to show” following. Now comes the content of the preaching or showing. Even though the phrase appears but twice in Matthew, it has the look of a formula introducing something of major importance. Some students of Matthew’s Gospel see it as an important indicator of Matthew’s view of the unfolding of Jesus’ ministry.In any case, “Jesus began to preach,” and the public work of Jesus is defined as preaching the nearness of the kingdom of God. In all too many cases today, the term “preaching” has associations with scolding, harping on moral platitudes, or dwelling on the obvious or the irrelevant. In the Scriptures, however, “to preach” (kēryssō) is not to deal in shopworn or secondhand goods, but to announce as a herald (kēryx) the news that is both gut-wrenching and glad beyond all expectation.
Neither religious philosophy nor existence can provide the criterion for the genuineness of Christianity. In philosophy, man discovers what is humanly knowable about the depths of being; in existence, man lives out what is humanly livable. But Christianity disappears the moment it allows itself to be dissolved into a transcendental precondition of human self-understanding in thinking or living, knowledge or deed.
-Hans Urs von Balthasar
“As we have taken the circle as a symbol of reason and madness, we may very well take the cross as a symbol at once of mystery and health. Buddhism is centripetal, but Christianity is centrifugal: it breaks out. For the circle is perfect and infinite in its nature; but it is fixed for ever in its size; it can never be larger or smaller. But the cross, though it has at its head a collision and a contradiction, can extend its four arms for ever without altering its shape. Because is has a paradox in its center it can grow without changing. The circle returns upon itself and is bound. The cross opens its arms to the four winds; it is a signpost for free travelers.”