The Galilee of the Gentiles

We’re beginning to read from the Gospel of Matthew at Sunday Mass and we’ll read from it most Sundays till the First Sunday of Lent in early March. Today ‘s reading from Matthew is about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. (Matthew 4, 12-23)

It’s after his baptism in the Jordan; John the Baptist has been arrested and Matthew says that Jesus goes to Galilee, which he calls the “Galilee of the Gentiles,” where people “sit in darkness.” Jesus will bring them light. It’s a land “overshadowed by death.” Jesus will bring it life.

This is not just a description of the past, as if his miracles, his teachings and his great works are only for that time. Jesus lives for all time, and so we’re the Galilee he comes to now; we’re the people who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

I just buried a cousin of mine last week. He was a few years ahead of me and I learned a lot from him in life, but in these last few months he taught me and his children and a good many other about the “art of dying.”

Not much said about that art these days. I doubt the subject can be found in the “How To” section in the bookstores. It used to be a subject for spiritual writers centuries ago, but not any more. Might be a good one to look at today.

Here’s the homily I preached for my cousin Bill last Saturday.

2 thoughts on “The Galilee of the Gentiles

  1. Susan

    In the last few years two friends who were my age passed away, well before the usual life expectancy, so the topic of “the art of dying” has been on my mind, but not in a morbid way. A friend who recently lost her mother suggested a book, “Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying.” It was written by two hospice nurses. The point of view is how to help and understand someone who is dying, but it has some ideas about “the art of dying” as well. I’ve learned the most about it from people in my Catechism class and in a social group of Catholics we are part of who have shared stories of their loved ones who recently passed away. Thank you for sharing the homily.


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