Daily Reflection
January 27th, 2002
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
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Isaiah 8:23--9:3
Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14
1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
Matthew 4:12-23 or 4:12-17

There is a venerable philosophical principle stating that whatever is received is received according to the mode of the receiver.  Stated simply, if you wish to speak to me, you had better use English or Spanish, but only if you speak slowly.  My mode then has to be adapted to by the one desiring to talk with me.  

Add to this the psychological dimension which would say that the more you love what you have to say and the more you love the person with whom you desire to communicate, the more you will desire to adapt to the mode of communication of the beloved. Love communicates adaptively.

We hear from the Prophet Isaiah today who speaks the loving words of God to the dispersed and banished people of Israel.  They had been sent to Zebulun and Naphtali and the land of Galilee.  God speaks to them in words which they understand and long to hear.  To be in a foreign land, exiled from their promise-fulfilling land is to live in darkness and gloom of spirit.  God comes to them according to their terms of need and receptivity.  The channel to which they were listening was the one of release and return.  They had experienced oppression and cruelty and they longed to hear some words from God and that is where God, in great love, speaks to them.     

In today’s Gospel we will watch Jesus and hear Him speak His first words, liturgically speaking, since His baptism.  God the Father has called Him the “beloved”, and loves what He will say to those whom God loves also.  We have a perfect picture of a communication workshop here.  Jesus comes out of his silence in the land of darkness, Galilee, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah.  He is the light and comes walking by the sea.  He then calls to His first two possibles.  He speaks to them according to their mode of listening.  He speaks to them where they are, in their boats, in their sense of meaning.  Jesus invites them from their boats and nets in terms they know and will understand later.  He will make them fishers of a different sort.    

After inviting two more brothers out of their boats of the usual, Jesus continues meeting His beloved in their sicknesses and needs. WE are seeing the Word of God beginning to speak to us according to us.  He was born according to us and given to accompany us as we are and towards what we are called to be.

We have celebrated the Incarnation and the Nativity, but now we begin celebrating the real meaning of it all.  God comes to us according to us, because God loves us so as to adapt to our human, limited ways.  Jesus called His first four followers to begin the expansion project of extending God’s adaptation program in our world.  The message is the same for us as Jesus walks along our shores and calls to us in our boats.  He invites each of us to allow ourselves to be met, called, loved, and sent off to meet, love and invite others.  It is all a grand communication system. To see Jesus, to hear Him so adapted to us is primarily to know how loved we are by the God Who keeps coming along our shores.  We do not have to be anywhere else and God has to come right there.  However, we also see that where He finds us He loves us, and then calls us up and out.  This can be why we do not want to look along our shores, nor listen to His words.  He will never stop walking our ways and calling us in our language, in our mode.  How loved we are to be sought.    

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