January 25, 2015
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
[__01__] What we read and observe in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 1, this Sunday is the start promise being made …and a response to the promise by the early apostles.
If someone were to make us a promise, a promise which we would find reasonable…this could not only console us…but also motivate us.
Peter, Andrew, James, John were motivated by a promise.
A transition took place in the lives of Peter and Andrew – and – James and John … as a result of the promise made to them.
They were four (4) fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. They had a livelihood, family ties, income.
These – livelihood + family ties + income – were surrendered to follow Jesus, our Savior.
[__02__] Is this not the challenge for all of us, to let even our professional objectives, our family challenges and differences, our pursuit of leisure, our desire for success…to let this be guided by the Gospel?
That is, by following God’s ways – and hearing his promise -- it does not meant that we would NOT be successful, not have money, not have a roof over our heads.
Rather, we are invited to let ourselves be guided by a new standard, a new law, a new commandment.
In the letter to the Romans, St. Paul wrote –
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
And, in the letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote …
“whatever is true … whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)
[__03__] These – livelihood + family ties + income – were surrendered to follow Jesus, our Savior. A new promise.
Not all the details of the promise – the covenant – are revealed in this first “INTERVIEW” … this first “ENCOUNTER” with our Savior.
Later, through the entire message of the good news, we come to understand the promise, and the reason that they put down their nets for a new calling, a new career, a new project.
[__04__] Would it not be true that we would be more likely to accept certain changes, certain transitions if promises were made?
Perhaps, we would also want our attorney or agent present, as a witness?
In the Gospel, promises were made to the disciples.
Because of these promises – this covenant between Jesus and his disciples – they were able to relocate, to change their lives.
I suggest that similar promises are made to us. Moreover, I suggest that the promises are – in some ways – similar to those promises which make any transition or change possible.
What person today – or college student or college graduate does not give some thought to “job security”?
We choose professions or employers in the hope that we would not only have a job this year but also next year and beyond.
Jesus promises us “job security” in the tasks he assigns us.
Consider that by following his ways – his covenant – he is always waiting for us to show up for “work” …even if we have strayed.
Is there not more joy in heaven – “more job security” – over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people with a secure retirement-plan who have no need of repentance?
Would we not also experience SECURITY, knowing that we have followed our consciences, even if this were not popular or convenient?
Through the Holy Spirit we have security and shelter …as we read in Psalm 91 about God’s promise –
“his faithfulness is a buckler and a shield. You shall not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day.” (Psalm 91:4-5)
“SECURITY” is one of our Savior’s Promises, meant to motivate his disciples then …and us – his followers – today.
Another promise is…
Each of us will know – or we have known – the affirmation of greater responsibility, or of being promoted to a new grade … or recognized in some way.
In our professional life at work – in academic life at school – greater responsibility is often the objective –
· An assistant coach wants to be the head coach.
· A vice president wants to be president.
· A freshman wants to be senior (or anything but a freshman).
However, we are also called to remember that each of these steps requires that we would be humble, that we would be confident of God’s help that we would demonstrate mercy and love….
As Jesus later tells James and John, greater responsibility does not grant us a license to control or arbitrate. They were seeking to climb the corporate ladder; Jesus told James and John:
“whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.” (Matthew 20:26-27)
“RESPONSIBILITY” is one of our Savior’s Promises, meant to motivate his disciples then …and us – his followers – today.
Another promise is…
What professional linebacker or lawyer is not drawn – attracted – by a higher monetary salary offered by a different team.
The grass – or artificial turf in a new stadium - may be greener.
This is the wealth we understand most readily. It is also the wealth which we work to protect with tax deductions, sensible investments, and other financial measures.
Greater wealth. Who would not jump ship at such a promise? And, the 4 apostles were jumping ship on the Sea of Galilee, out of their fishing boats.
Jesus, through his life – death – resurrection – is promising a means to wealth, treasure.
Yes, I will admit this is not a portfolio of assets denominated in the Euro or U.S. Dollar.
Nevertheless, consider the treasure present through the commands of the Gospel, values such as …
[__05.03.01__] SANCTITY OF LIFE.
At every stage, a human life has value.
Jesus was the Savior of the world even before he had been born … he remains the Savior of the world even after his death, before and after his resurrection.
We are called to see the value – the wealth – in the lives of the very young, the unborn, the terminally ill person.
In our own lives, when we feel healthy and strong, we are sometimes not aware of how God works within us…
But, for the person who lacks certain capabilities, or strengths, he or she can teach us great things about God’s power.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians to teach them about how he learned more about God’s power through times of adversity than through times of strength…
Paul wrote “... power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
(1 Corinthians 12:9)
(1 Corinthians 12:9)
These are the promises that Jesus makes to us, promises to his early disciples, a reminder that in his kingdom, there is the promise of greater security, greater responsibility, and greater wealth, in spiritual terms.
And, we are called to follow him.