Today we begin our reading of the story of the ministry of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, which will take us until the end of the liturgical year. We hear the evangelist’s summary of Jesus’ message: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’ Matthew precedes this with a quotation from the Hebrew Scriptures, which he declares to be fulfilled. Jesus brings light not only to Israel but to the nations too, to all those who ‘live in darkness’.
From the very start he calls disciples. They leave everything at once to follow Jesus. The message of Jesus and his very personality invite them to take this risk. They accompanied him as he ‘went round the whole of Galilee’. This is the first location for the preaching of the good news and for the healings of Jesus, the place where the gospel is warmly welcomed. We will hear more about these activities in the weeks to come.