Sunday, January 25, 2009

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear All,

Mark's gospel is often referred to as the Kingdom gospel, because it flows from the initial Kingdom proclamation, found in today's reading of Jesus going to Galilee to begin his messianic ministry. We may have become so accustomed to hearing this that we may overlook how odd it was. Jerusalem was the religious and political center of Israel and anyone announcing a new future for Israel would have been expected to declare his intentions there. As Jesus' ministry develops, however, it becomes clear that Jerusalem was the one place in Israel that was least likely to accept his message. The powerful people in the capital city had far too much to protect. They could tolerate only a "controlled" reform.

Mark wastes no time in pointing out the implications of the public mission of Jesus in Galilee: "This is the time of fulfillment." All the hopes and dreams of Israel are about to be realized. The thousand plus years of waiting are over. This is so because "The kingdom of God is at hand." The hopes of Israel had been centered in the promised messianic kingdom through which God would deliver his people from bondage and bring everlasting peace. At long last the promise is being fulfilled; the Messiah has arrived.  But the kingdom that Jesus had in mind was both far less and far more that anyone in Israel had imagined.  It would not mean the end of the hated Roman occupation, yet it would reveal a Redeemer (Messiah) who is the Son of God.  To develop his mission, Jesus would choose, not clever politicians, but simple honest fishermen, announcing to Simon and his brother Andrew, that he would make them fishers of men. He knew that for his purposes a good and generous heart was more important than a proud and ambitious head.

This gospel invites to some fascinating reflection.  To be honest, we are painfully aware that, though 2000 years have passed, we have not yet seen the fulfillment of God's literal promises. Some have stopped searching for the meaning and given up their faith in God.  The rest of us may consider the solution to this dilemma to be the recognition that the fulfillment envisioned by Jesus is constantly being offered to each of us.  It is a "rolling" fulfillment that each person must discover in his or her own lifetime.  Jesus has come, but he is also still coming, and each one of us must ask whether he is being welcomed.  Fulfillment is offered; it is never imposed.  To live in the expectation of fulfillment is to live in the bittersweet world of promise.  What we hope for is still awaited, and that may be painful.  But we also live in joyful expectation of what will be, and that is comforting beyond words.  We may be struggling in a dark valley, but the horizon is illuminated by God's trustworthy promise.

Interesting to note that Jesus called his first disciples from their workplaces, reminding us that there is a purpose in life beyond work.  This larger purpose is found in our response to God's call to walk with him.  This means taking time for prayer and gradually getting to know the Lord as the very center of our lives. Coming to understand that it is in Him that the value of our work and the precious gift of other people will be found… again and again…unto eternity.

A complete text of the readings at:

In the news, the Church meets Web 2.0:  The Vatican launched this week its channel at :  

With God’s Love and Blessings,


1 comment:

  1. Thanks! Wonderful reminder, always to keep close to heart