“Judas, taking the morsel, went out immediately. And it was night “ (John 13:30). A few words to describe a dramatic scene: a man, now at the mercy of his crazy projects, abandons Christ – the light – and is swallowed by darkness.
Man fears the darkness of the night and is heartened when he sees the first signs of dawn. Sentries scan the horizon, waiting for the dawn (Ps. 130 , 6). Long are the nights of those who burn with fever, are troubled by nightmares and are in the state of tossing and turning up in the morning (7 Gb , 3-4).
One who precipitates in the darkness of vice, falsehood, injustice also waits for the ray of light. Who announces the end of a painful night and the beginning of a new day waits for that ray of light too.
Watchman, how much of the night remains?, the prophet asks (Isaiah 21, 11). How much longer will the darkness of evil and of sin in the world be? When will the people be freed from the power of darkness”? (Col 1: 13).
Paul invites us to hope. “This is the time to awake, for our salvation is now nearer than when we first believed; the night is almost over and the day is at hand” (Rom 13: 11-12).
The light-darkness conflict continues, waiting for the endless day, when “there will be no more night. They will not need the light of lamp or sun for God himself will be the light and they will reign forever” (Rev. 22 , 5).
To internalize the message , we repeat : ” We were darkness but now we are light. Make us, O Lord, behave as children of the light “
There is no page of Scripture that the theme of vocation does not appear in some way. “In the beginning God calls the creatures to existence (Wis 11:25), calls man to life and when Adam turns away from him he asks: Where are you? (Gen 3:9). God calls a people and prefers them among all the peoples of the earth (Dt 10:14-15). He calls Abraham, Moses, the prophets and gives them a mission to bring to fruition, a plan of salvation to be realized. He also calls the stars of the firmament by name and they respond: Here we are! They rejoice and shine with gladness for him who created them (Bar 3:34-35). Understanding these vocations is to discover the plan that God has for each of his creatures, and of every person. Nobody and nothing is useless: every person, every being has a function, a job to do.
“Out of Egypt have I called my son”—the Lord declares by the mouth of Hosea (Hos 11:1). Matthew (Mt 2:15) applies this prophecy to Jesus. Yes, he also has a vocation: to retrace the stages of exodus, to overcome the temptations and to reach freedom with all the people.
And our vocation?
“God has called us with a holy calling” (2 Tim 1:9). He called us “through the gospel we preach, for he willed you to share the glory of Christ Jesus our Lord” (2 Thes 2:14).
The paths that lead to this goal are different for each of us. There is the way of one who is married and one who is celibate. There is the path of the saints and the sick, the widows, the separated ones and of the engaged couples. What is important is to listen and discover where God wants to lead each one and “to live the vocation you have received” (Eph 4:1). “Angel of the Lord” is whoever supports the brother and helps him discern and continue along the path laid for him by God.
To interiorize the message, we repeat:
“Lord, what you want me to do? Help me to understand and to realize your plan of love.”
The biblical sites are often tied to a theological significance. The sea, the mountain, the desert, the Galile of the Gentiles, Samaria, the Jordan river, the land beyond the lake of Genezareth are much more than simple geographical indications (often not entirely accurate).
Luke does not specify the place where the baptism of Jesus took place, but John alludes to it: “It happened in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing” (John 1 : 28). The tradition has correctly located the episode in Bethabara, the ford where even the people of Israel, guided by Joshua, crossed the river and entered the Promised Land.
The gestures of Jesus present explicit references to the passage from slavery to freedom and to the beginning of a new exodus to the true Promised Land. Bethabara has also another recall, less obvious, but equally significant: the geologists ensure that this is the lowest point on earth (400m below sea level).
The decision to start from there the public life cannot be random. Jesus came from the heights of heaven to free people. He went down into a deeper abyss to show that he desires the salvation of every person. He wants to save even the most derelict, the one dragged by guilt and sin in an abyss no one imagines the possibility of getting out. God does not forget and does not abandon any of his children.
To internalize the message, we repeat: “And the grace of God appears, bringing salvation to all people”
A land of passage, the subject of disputes, a crossroads of peoples, cultures, races ad language. Palestine was invaded and occupied in turn by Egyptian Pharaohs and princes of Mesopotamia.
The desire to one day to take revenge against the oppressors was cultivated for a long time by Israel (Ps 137, 8-9), but the retribution, retaliation and revenge do not enter into God’s plans. An anonymous prophet of the 3rd century B.C. instead reveals what God dreams are. Here they are: “On that day the Egyptians and the Assyrians will worship the Lord together. Israel will be a third party with Egypt and Assyria – a blessing on earth.And Yahweh will bless them saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my creation, and Israel my heritage’” (Is 19, 23-25)
A surprising, unheard and incredible prophecy: Israel is destined to be a mediator of salvation for her two historical enemies, the Assyrians and the Egyptians.
A century before another prophet had announced: “The Lord will bring all the foreigners to his holy mountain and will give them joy in house” (Is 56, 6-7).
The dream of God came true when in Jacob a star appear, Christ the Lord as the Lord has promised (Nm 24, 17). His light drives away the darkness created by ancestral hates and convokes all the people in one family. This is the message of hope of the Epiphany, the feast of light.
To interiorize the message, we repeat:
His light will make justice flourish, and peace abound while the moon shines.