Saint for the day: Agnes (d. c. 258)
John 3:1-5, 10 – Psalm 25 – 1 Corinthians 7:29-31Mark 1:14-20
“The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
The above quote from today’s Holy Gospel is somewhat familiar to us and is sometimes used on Ash Wednesday in place of “Remember, you are dust into dust you shall return.”
We have just finished the celebration of the Christmas Season although there is some sense of it continuing until the Feast of the Presentation on February 2nd – which is calculated as the 40th day after Christmas. Are you catching the drift in the way some of our Church feasts and celebration are noted? Then we get just a little over 4 weeks before we begin Lent – on February 10th. With all that in mind, we can see that the better part of our Liturgical Year puts our focus on “the Kingdom of God [which] is at hand!” We’ll hear how Jesus calls his disciples to follow him and also come to understand how he makes that known especially to the lost and burdened people. It’s important to notice that Jesus doesn’t go to the temple where many observant Jews gathered fully expecting that the Messiah would first appear there. Rather, he walks along the shore and invites common, working-class men to follow him. With this kind of invitation I have to ask myself, ‘what was it about HIM that caused these four fishermen to drop everything that they had worked so hard to attain and go off to become “fishers of men?”
They must have been able to perceive something about him that would allow them to make this “about-face decision.”
Whatever it was, we also know that these first ones must have been changed in some way or other so that they, themselves, were able to go and cause others to drop everything and follow them to Jesus. And at this point we’re nowhere’s near being theological about what it might mean to be a disciple. That probably didn’t really begin to take root until after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. There’s an important lesson for all of us as we move into these “numbered weeks” of the Church Year: the “call” has been given. We’ve made some decision to follow but, we, like the disciples, won’t really understand until we’ve gone through the Paschal Mystery, received the Pentecost gift of the Holy Spirit and somehow heard the voice of God saying, “Well done, faithful servant; enter in to the joy of the Lord.” (Matthew 25:21ff)
It’s not just chance that Jesus chose ordinary people to be his disciples. He did this in order that we wouldn’t shy away from taking the chance to follow him – thinking, “Oh. That’s for special people who know what it’s all about!” Believe it or not! You and I are those “special people” on whom His favor rests. By virtue of our own baptism the future of the Church is on our shoulders and the lighted candle that we were given at our baptism was meant to bring the “Light of Christ” into our darkened world!” Yes! “This little light of mine …” We’re it! Amen?