Generally speaking, is your life full of joy and light, or darkness and despair? Do you wake up in the morning with a bounce or with a leaden weight?
The people of Zebulun and Naphtali, in the Galilee area, lived with a dark memory. Their ancestors worshipped idols and were slaughtered and deported by the Assyrians. This ran deep in their psyche.
We’re all a bit like them. There are things from our past than haunt us and that we never fully shake off. Then there is the daily struggle of just keeping body and soul together. Not to mention the dismal news that constantly greets us from the newspapers and TV.
Isaiah tells the people of Zebulun and Naphtali that their time or mourning is over because God is about the send the Messiah who will put an end to their troubles. And this is what St Matthew quotes when he introduces the public preaching of Jesus.
We may be tempted to think that idolatry is something that we needn’t worry about. Surely it is something that is long dead and buried? Yet our lives can easily become clogged up with worshipping the inessential, the false gods. How many of us live our own lives through the comings and goings of ‘celebrities’, eagerly awaiting news of their latest love affairs?
How many of us worship on the altar of other people’s opinion of us? How many sacrifices do we make in order to seek after that elusive fortune?
Sometimes life can be lived at such a shallow level that we become unaware of how really joyless it has become. We long for meaning in our lives and we yearn for fulfilment, yet all we seem to find is the spectre of what’s gone wrong in the past and the tinsel invitation to the future.
The teaching of Christ breaks this cycle by being good news. It offers fullness of life to those who believe and live by it. It brings light.