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26 January 2014
posted by Canon Dakin on 29-01-2014

The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light. We heard those words at Christmas when the Church applied them to the birth of Jesus, a light in our darkness. Now St Mt applies them to Our Lord’s teaching which enlightens the darkness of our unknowing.  Zabulun and Naphtali - who or where are they? You remember that Jacob had twelve sons. They founded the twelve tribes of Israel.  Rescued from slavery in Egypt under Moses the twelve tribes were brought into the Promised Land by Josua and  when Josua divided the land between them the tribes of Zabulun and Naphtali were settled in Galilee. So Matthew talks about Galilee as the land of Zabulun and Naphtali. But why is there reference to Galilee of the nations? As time went on the Jews had their ups an downs and about five hundred years before Our Lord was born the Assyrians  took over Palestine and into the northern part, that is Galilee, they brought in some of their own people. So Mt speaks about Galilee of the nations. What was Our Lord doing in Galilee? It  was his home.He was a Galilean. Nazareth was in Galilee.  The ruler of Galilee was Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, the one who had tried to eliminate the infant Jesus by the slaughter of the Holy Innocents.  Herod Antipas had just beheaded John the Baptist and Mt seems to suggest that prudence caused Jesus to move his headquarters to Capernaum. This was still in Galilee, still within Herod’s jurusdiction, but it was a border town and if necessary Jesus would have been able to slip across the border into the territory of Philip, no friend of Herod who had taken Philip’s wife. When we come to the calling of the disciples it is noticeable how promptly they respond.  I began thinking how sluggish, by comparison, is the response of young men today to the call to priesthood. Why should this be? Quite honestly, I don’t know.  It has been claimed that young people these days are chary of commitment. You may read in the latest edition of The Voice POPE FRANCIS talking to young peoole about marriage: “Today there are those who say that marriage is out of fashion;.... many preach the importance of ‘enjoying’ the moment. They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, ‘forever’, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring”.   And he urges them to have the courage to swim against the tide. Priesthood, too, is a life-long commitment, ‘forever’, and, perhaps, not being able to see into the future young men are hesitating. We certainly need them. According to the most recent figures the period between 2010 and 2012 saw a drop of 15% in the number of priests serving parishes in England, caused by older men moving into retirement and not being replaced. The whole cultural scene has changed. It was only in the 1950s that Oxford and Cambridge dropped Latin and Greek as a condition of university entry. Grammar schools therefore had Latin and Greek as basic subjcts. A lad finishing his Sixth Form studies in a Catholic Grammar School would view the priesthood as a possibility knowing that he was equipped for a study of theology.  Not so these days - the classics are rarely on offer even in Catholic schools. The choice facing young men may be more demanding but God’s grace is more than adequate. It  simply means that our prayers must be more sincre and persevering.

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