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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Zebulun and Nephtali were sons of Jacob and were allotted land in what became the kingdom of Israel. They were in an unfortunate position as they were frequently overrun by invading armies and they were the first people to be carried off by the Assyrians and replaced by people from other parts of the Assyrian Empire. Yet these were the places which God chose for his Son to be brought up and to minister in. Nazareth is situated in Zebulun and Capernaum is in Nephtali. Matthew is very anxious to draw our attention to these names, which had ceased to be used a long time ago, because of the prophesy of Isaiah which appears in today's first reading. We are therefore reminded that God always keeps his promises.

Galileans were looked down upon by Judeans as uneducated and of questionable ancestry. There was a gentile population there, though there is a dispute as to how big it was. After the imprisonment of John, Jesus moved to Galilee rather than Judaea. It would seem an odd decision since he might have captured the limelight better in Judaea. He was going in fact into a backwater. God works often in ways that are mysterious and with unlikely people. The shepherd boy David was not an obvious choice for king, yet his reign was looked upon as a golden age. More important than this was the fact that he became the ancestor of Jesus through an illicit union.

Jesus did not select learned pharisees or scribes as his followers, but rather simple fishermen. They followed him without question, their openness to his teaching like a blank slate that he could write on.