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Saturday, 21 January 2023 11:33

Third Sunday in Ordinary TIme - 2022

THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY  [Gospel of Matthew 4:12-23]

"Follow me and I will make you fishers of men" (Matt 4:19)

Bill Burt 150January, the beginning of a new year, can be a time of regret and reflection, mixed with optimism for the future, a time for new resolutions. The custom of looking backward and forward is fitting for a month named after JANUS, the Roman god of beginnings and endings.

The name, Janus, is related to a Latin word meaning “door”. Janus was seen as “the janitor” or “door-keeper” of the heavens. He was depicted as having a double face, which enabled him to see backwards and forwards, inside and outside, simultaneously. Consequently, he was regarded as being a guardian of wisdom.

Silhouette of fish lift nets in morning, Pakpra, Phatthalung, ThailandIn the Bible there are several books known as the Books of Wisdom. These include the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, the Wisdom of Solomon and Sirach. Rather than make fanciful new year’s resolutions, maybe it would be worthwhile this January for us to reflect on those Biblical words of wisdom that have come down to us over thousands of years. Like Janus, we could look back, and reflecting on the past,  ponder  future possibilities.

Looking to the future, we have someone greater than a mythological figure to be our guide, our source of wisdom. As a Jewish teacher, Jesus would have been imbued with the teachings of the Books of Wisdom, upon which he based his own lessons.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear about Jesus calling his first disciples. Amazingly, they left everything and answered Jesus’ call. They must at times have looked back at their past lives and reflected on how they were truly transformed. They would have looked forward, too, wondering about the implications of saying “yes” to Jesus.

Like the mythical Janus, Peter and his fellow chosen ones would have looked back, looked inside at their own feelings, looked outside considering their world, and then looked to the future. We are called to do the same.  In doing so, may we remember that Jesus is beside us, prompting, encouraging, suggesting, guiding … He is our true wisdom figure.

[A footnote: In about the year 272 AD, a man was born in southern Italy who was named after the god Janus. He was called JANUARIUS. After entering the priesthood he became Bishop of Benevento. Known for his wisdom and fortitude, he was martyred in 305 AD. He is Patron of Naples and also the Patron of Blood Clinics (!), due to a phenomenon in Naples Cathedral: A vial containing his dry blood is displayed in the cathedral. It is said to liquify from time to time.]

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In the spirit of reconciliation, the Society of the Divine Word, Australia Province, acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea, sky, and community.

We acknowledge their skin-groups, story-lines, traditions, religiosity and living cultures.

We pay respect to their elders, past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to all indigenous peoples of New Zealand, Thailand, and Myanmar.

We are committed to building with them, a brighter future together.