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Podcast Worship

Daily Prayer for 22 January 2023 (3rd Sunday of Epiphany, Year A)

Listen to a service of Daily Prayer for 22 January 2023 (3rd Sunday of Epiphany, Year A), including a reflection on the gospel reading

Preparation

O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Blessed are you, Sovereign God,
king of the nations,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
your name is proclaimed in all the world.
As the Sun of Righteousness dawns in our hearts
anoint our lips with the seal of your Spirit
that we may witness to your gospel
and sing your praise in all the earth.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.

Matthew 4.12-23

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 

‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, 
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, 
Galilee of the Gentiles – 
the people who sat in darkness 
have seen a great light, 
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death 
light has dawned.’ 

From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake – for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. 

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. 

Reflection

Jesus said: Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.

With just two words Jesus invited Simon and Andrew, James and John into a whole new way of living. Four fishermen, plying their trade on the Sea of Galilee, were approached by a stranger who offered them an unexpected open door through which they would discover a whole new world. Rather than ignoring that stranger’s bizarre invitation, they stepped through the proffered open door, they stepped from the familiar into the unknown.

Jesus used the language of their trade as he invited them to follow him. They were skilled fishermen, working within their family business. They knew how to use their boats and their nets to catch the fish that would provide food for themselves and for others. They knew the best times to sail out and catch the right numbers of the right type of fish to sustain life in their community. The notion of fishing for people must have seemed both familiar and very, very strange.

Jesus’ invitation to Simon and Andrew, James and John is an invitation that Jesus has continued to extend throughout the last two thousand years. Jesus has never stopped asking people to follow him, and to fish for people. But, as we consider our reaction to that invitation, we do need to reflect upon exactly what that means. 

Firstly, Jesus’ invitation to follow him involves our engaging in a process of humble submission. There is no room for pride and personal preference in the life of the Christian disciple. All that we say and do should reflect Jesus’ commands to love God and neighbour before all else, to place ourselves at the back of the queue. 

Secondly, we need to understand that ‘fishing for people’ does not involve trapping them, forcing them to go where they do not wish to go. To fish for people is to lead them, by word and example, along the same path we have chosen to follow. To fish for people is to amaze others with the Good News of Jesus Christ, to amaze them to such an extent that they feel compelled to follow him as well.

Jesus is constantly standing by the same open door he revealed to those first disciples. They chose to accept his invitation to go through that door and to live in and for his Kingdom. Let us pray that we might demonstrate the same courage as we step across that threshold and show others the true joy of the Christian life.

Prayers

From the rising of the sun to its setting, 
let us pray to the Lord.

That the people of God in all the world
may worship in spirit and in truth,
let us pray to the Lord.

That the Church may discover again 
that unity which is the Father’s will,
let us pray to the Lord.

That the nations of the earth
may seek after the ways that make for peace,
let us pray to the Lord.

That the whole creation, groaning in travail,
may be set free to enjoy the glorious liberty of the children of God,
let us pray to the Lord.

That all who with Christ have entered the shadow of death
may rest in peace and rise in glory,
let us pray to the Lord.

Let us commend the world, to which Christ showed the way,
to the mercy and protection of God.

Creator of the heavens,
who led the Magi by a star
to worship the Christ-child:
guide and sustain us,
that we may find our journey’s end
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Believing the promises of God,
let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

Christ the Son of God
perfect in us the image of his glory
and gladden our hearts 
with the good news of his kingdom;
and may the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always.
Amen.