From The American Bible Society:
January 22, 2012
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
This is a reminder to continue in your daily Lectio Divina Scripture reading. We’ve included the content again for you, to make it easier for you to continue to engage with God’s Word.
THEY LEFT THEIR NETS AND WENT WITH HIM
Mark 1:14-20 (Good News Translation)14 After John had been put in prison, Jesus went to Galilee and preached the Good News from God. 15 “The right time has come,” he said, “and the Kingdom of God is near! Turn away from your sins and believe the Good News!” 16 As Jesus walked along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw two fishermen, Simon and his brother Andrew, catching fish with a net. 17 Jesus said to them, “Come with me, and I will teach you to catch people.” 18 At once they left their nets and went with him. 19 He went a little farther on and saw two other brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in their boat getting their nets ready. 20 As soon as Jesus saw them, he called them; they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and went with Jesus.
Traditionally, in the Roman Catholic liturgy, the reading from the Gospel began with the Latin phrase, “In illo tempore…” a formula which was similar to that of our children’s stories: “Once upon a time....” The intention was very simple: what mattered was what Jesus said or did, what happened, not when or where it happened. In today’s fragment of Mark’s Gospel, however, the first sentence gives us the precise setting of the story, both in time (“After John had been put in prison”), and in space (“Jesus went to Galilee”). For the evangelist, those “coordinates” make his story appear as something which goes beyond the world of pure religious speculation or fantasy. Even if he has not said a word about Jesus’ origin, family or background, Mark sets his public ministry in “the right time,” a time of salvation which is not legendary, but real, factual and historical. Again, as opposed to John’s narrative which we read last Sunday, Mark underlines the material elements surrounding the calling of the first disciples: we find objects (fish, nets, boats); specific activities (catching fish, getting the nets ready); professions (fishermen, hired men); names and family relations. Everything is plausible, usual, real. We also find another contrast, in this case, between the passage from the Gospel and Jonah’s story. Even if the calling that the characters receive is the same –an invitation to follow God’s command--the response is utterly different. While the disciples’ reaction can be described as an obedient response, Jonah is depicted as a reluctant or, more precisely, openly disobedient prophet: “Jonah … set out in the opposite direction in order to get away from the Lord” (1:2). In both cases, the calling is different and, nevertheless, has a precise and similar aim: Jesus’ disciples are destined to catch people, i.e., to help them enter the “net” of the Kingdom of Heaven; Jonah is called to preach a message of repentance and conversion in Nineveh. There is also a similar basic message: “turn away from sins” (Mark 1:15) and, “Everyone must give up their wicked behavior!” (Jonah 3:8). We can say that prophets and disciples – and, of course, all believers - are chosen not to stay at home, close to the master, but to be sent out on a personal, individual mission. In fact, that is the context in which, in our own historical time, the Lord’s voice should be heard. But today’s contrasts and coincidences are not limited to the first reading and the Gospel. There is also a paradox in the text from Paul’s letter. In just three verses, five times we find the phrase, “as though.” In the midst of this real, concrete world in which we Christians live, our attitude should be that of people who can reach “farther than what our eyes see and our ears hear.” Paul reminds us that, even if we are aware of the fleeting, ephemeral condition of this world, we must pay due attention to our daily activities, needs and concerns. But that attention cannot by exclusive or absolute. We have the certitude that the Father “knows that we need those things…and will provide us with them” (Luke 12:29,30). In the end, “heaven and earth will pass away, but Jesus’ words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35).
We know quite well the universal calling that we have received as Christians and, of course, our personal vocations, too. But, are we aware of the small callings we get from the Lord every single day? To what extent can we put aside our daily interests and concerns to listen to those invitations and follow the Lord?
Pray for those who think they have received a special vocation to a specific Christian way of life (priesthood, special lay or religious vocation) and may feel doubts about their future, that they may overcome their uncertainty and respond to Christ’s calling with generosity. Give thanks for you calling to Christian life, to your particular way of life, and pray for fidelity to follow Christ.
Read once again John 15:1-17, and delve into the demands of having been chosen by Jesus and sent to bear much fruit. Find one of Jesus’ sentences and keep it as a meaningful “motto” to meditate upon during the week.
Reflections written by Rev. Fr. Mariano Perrón Director of Inter-Religious Affairs Archdiocese of Madrid, Spain