Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS   
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 
Posted for January 25, 2015  
 

Here, very early on in the Gospel of Mark, we have the
call of the first Apostles. As we  have noted already Mark 
gets down to business fast, here in only verse sixteen of 
his  Gospel we find Jesus calling Simon and his brother 
Andrew and then having gone on a   little further he calls the sons of Zebedee, James and John.

Short though these four verses maybe, we find in them an extraordinary amount of detail. In fact there are six important features which are paradigms for all the other call and conversion stories in the New Testament. But they are not restricted to the pages of the Bible for they might well be also characteristics of our own story of call and conversion.

The first feature is that it is Jesus who takes the initiative. He is the one who does the calling —naturally no one can call themselves. The initiative must come from God and at a time and place of his choosing. This is the action of grace in our life and it does not depend on anything we do.

The second feature is that those who are called are engaged in ordinary work. Jesus does not normally choose people from the elite; he tends to choose from among the ordinary people. In this case they were fishermen, an occupation which involved hard work but also a certain amount of knowledge and skill. They are not ignoramuses but neither do they have an elite education or social advantage.

The third point to notice is that Christ’s call is quite explicit. He says simply but clearly: “follow me”. There is no ambiguity; those who experience this call certainly know that they are being called.

Of course, at the beginning nothing is made clear, things only gradually evolve and become clearer as time goes on. Those first Apostles couldn’t have known what answering the call would lead to. They did not know that, in the words of the poet, it would end up “costing not less than everything”. They just knew they must follow; only gradually over the course of time did the implications become clear to them.

The fourth point is that the Apostles are invited to share in the life and work of Jesus. They go where he goes; they do what he does; they say the things he says. They learn by example, by doing, they learn by living with him.

Fifthly, they leave their former life immediately and without hesitation. It is as if they have been waiting all their lives for that call and simply know that they must follow Jesus then and there, even though it might involve personal loss and sacrifice.

Lastly, their response is not something private, it means coming together with others who have similarly responded to the call of Jesus. It means travelling along the road together with these fellow disciples of Jesus.

In a certain sense that is a good definition of the Church—a group of Disciples of Christ travelling on the road of life together. Naturally they will support each other as they make their pilgrimage through life. Like any band of companions each one will find a particular role and make their contribution for the good of all.

It is amazing what you can get out of these few short verses of scripture. We see these six points in the calls of the other Apostles but we can perhaps recognise them also in our own lives. Those who have experienced a conversion later in their lives will perhaps more easily recognise this.

But maybe those of us who were baptised in infancy won’t find it quite so easy. However, if we think hard we will recognise that there was a point or perhaps several points in our lives when we did explicitly confirm that choice. It may have been when we received the Sacrament of Confirmation, but that acceptance of our call could just as easily have taken place at any stage of our life’s journey for God is constantly at work in our lives.

That’s looking back, of course. Looking back on our initial vocation, our decision to follow Christ, our choosing to respond to his call to become a member of his Church.

But what about looking forward? Those first Apostles responded to Jesus and followed him, but one at least strayed away and betrayed Jesus. And Peter himself, as we well know, denied Christ three times.

So, even the best of us fall down on the job. Following Jesus is not a once and for all decision. It is a choice we must make each day. As we put our feet over the side of the bed each morning and place them on the floor we must chose whether those feet will follow Christ today.

Will those feet of mine walk in his footsteps? Or will they walk in a different direction?

At the end of the day when I pick those feet up off the floor I could just as well ask myself a similar question. Where have those feet been during the day? Where did they walk? Is the dust on them the same dust as is on Christ’s feet?

And that is just in the ordinary course of events as we live out our Baptismal commitment. But sometimes we experience another call, a call within a call, as it were. At some point in our lives we might feel that God wants us to take a further step. We begin to experience a nagging feeling that we ought to deepen our Christian commitment that we should be a bit more radical.

Some or all of those six characteristics that we spoke about might come into play. We feel that God wants us to go on a further journey and just like those first Apostles we want to respond and immediately follow the Lord on this new deeper journey even though we might not know where it will lead.

It can strike us in different ways. I’ve been here at St Joseph’s this time around for only three years but I can see that there are many people who are carrying out their role as disciples of Christ in an extraordinary number of different ways. There are parishioners who raise money for the missions, others who are working for justice and peace, some who belong to organisations dedicated to serving the community in innovative ways.

Still others are involved in one or other aspect of pastoral care. This is not to speak of the many who are acting as catechists or those who are putting their musical and artistic talents at the service of the parish. There are too the many people involved in education in this parish with its strong connections to so many schools.

One of the things I have noticed is large number of Baptisms taking place here at St Joseph’s These many Baptisms are a cause of great joy for the parish. They are a sign of new life and bring us all hope for the future.

We celebrate the initiation of these new members of the Church and the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives. On their behalf their parents are responding to the call of Christ. The parents know that to bring their children to the waters of Baptism is one of the greatest gifts they could give to their child. For by doing so they help them to set off on that great journey of faith following in the footsteps of the Divine Saviour.

But we also rejoice that many young people and adults in this parish are also beginning a new and deeper journey. They are taking a new road with Christ. It may be a harder and rockier road, but he is calling and they are choosing to answer his call.

We rejoice and we encourage them. But the rest of us also need look inwards and ask ourselves if we too are not also being called to a deeper and more radical living out of our Christian faith.

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
January 25, 2014

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B—January 25, 2015
In Ordinary Time, we hear “the preaching of the kingdom of God” through all the lectionary readings. Today, we find a dramatization of what that means for some of us.

Gospel (Read Mk 1:14-20)

In last Sunday’s Gospel, we reflected on Jesus’ first meeting with Andrew, John, and Simon Peter. These men were very interested in the new Rabbi whom John the Baptist, their teacher, had called “the Lamb of God.” Today’s reading describes how they, along with John’s brother, James, moved from being interested in Jesus to becoming His intimate companions and co-workers. How did this happen?
…more

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time: It Is Never Too Late
Once a year I put on my classical duds and go to New York City to see an opera or two.  A few years ago I saw Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The story is sometimes called Don Juan.  It is the story of a horrible man who uses and dumps as many women as he can; laughing at the fact that he can’t even count his victims. At the end of the opera Don Giovanni or the play Don Juan, or for that matter, at the end of the opera Faust, the main character has the ability to be forgiven, but out of pride refuses to recognize his sins and would rather be condemned to hell.
…more

How Do I Love God With All My Heart?
Dear Father John, I want to love God with all my heart, but I don’t know where to start.  How do I do this?

LOVING GOD WITH all your heart means desiring him above all things and making your intimate, personal relationship with him into the highest priority of your life, the center around which every other facet of your existence finds its proper and glorious place. But how do you do that? How do you make that happen?
…more

The Discovery of the Trinity
Two basic tenets of Catholic teaching are that 1) God revealed himself in a progressive revelation that was completed with the death of the last apostle and 2) since then the Church’s understanding of that complete revelation has deepened and developed.

Perhaps the classic model for understanding this process is seen in the revelation given by God concerning His own Triune nature. Certain critics of the Catholic Faith speak of the doctrine of the Trinity as an “invention” of the Church. However, it is closer to the mark to say that this truth was discovered rather than invented. For the Church, so far from creating anything, simply followed the clues left by God in His complete revelation given through Scripture and Tradition.

The clues were essentially as follows:
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Direct All Things to God
Who would not wish to become simple? But how can this be achieved?

You must first meditate upon this virtue, in order to understand its primary importance, its absolute necessity, and to arouse within yourself the most ardent desire to possess it at any cost.

Without this ardent desire and resolute will, all of your efforts will be in vain. Your endeavors and your in­clinations will woefully fail before your egoism, vanity, selfishness, passions, and all the human motives that constantly influence you and that overthrow the edifice of your simplicity as fast as you build it up.

But once possessed of the calm and resolute will to attain simplicity, this is what you must do:
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Unanswered Prayers
My husband and I recently spoke about prayer and our prayer ministry, Pray More Novenas, at a local Theology on Tap event.

After our talk, there was a short break, and then we did a question & answer session. One of the questions has stuck with me since that night, and I wanted to share it with you all here…

It’s something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about in the past year or so.

The question was, “If our prayers aren’t answered after a novena, should we keep praying?”
…more

Praying for Humility
St. Thomas Aquinas describes the task of humility: “to temper and restrain the mind, lest it tend to high things immoderately” (Summa theologiae, II-II, q. 161, a. 1). It is truly one of the most important virtues. All sin is pride against God and a denial of humility. Therefore, our obedience to God must be a humble and loving submission to Him and to following his will above our own.
…more

Our Friends: The Saints
We have access to literally thousands of friends—at any time. No, I’m not talking about Facebook or any other online network; I’m talking about an eternal network of friends in high places. The saints are always available when we need to ask for intercession. The saints are like a big network that is always accessible-no phone or computer needed.

Any problem you have, any need, there is almost certainly a saint who went through the same situation.  Whether you are a student, a parent, a doctor, or anything in between, there is a saint who had the same experience.
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What Does Jesus Mean When He Says to Some, “I Do Not Know You”?
Every now and then someone will come past my door and request parish services of some sort. Maybe it’s to plan a wedding, a baptism, or a funeral; maybe it’s for money! And then I look at him or her and say, “Who are you?” (since I don’t recognize the person). “Oh, well Father, you don’t know me but my grandmother goes here; this is our family Church.” “Oh, I see, but where do you go to Church?” I usually ask.  The response is usually something like, “Well, you know how it is Father, I don’t get to Church too often … but my mother goes here.”
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Nurturing the Gospel: Preparation, Patience and Perseverance
Preparation, patience and perseverance:
These are three virtues that will help us nurture God’s Kingdom in our life of prayer. In part 2 of this article, I would like to offer you some practical tips on applying these virtues to your prayer life:
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On Heavy Burdens and Negative Patterns
I have been thinking a great deal about my recent experience at Reconciliation. I felt an intense and unexplainable urge to go and confess my sins when I woke up that morning. I try to go every six weeks or so, but this was no routine visit to the priest for me. I needed to unburden myself of the numerous venial sins I had committed since I last participated in this Sacrament. I was able to see the true nature of these sins as a tremendous burden on my shoulders, as a fog that kept me from seeing the path ahead and absolutely as obstacles in my relationship with Christ. I know these observations to be true because the moment I left the confessional booth I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted, my spiritual vision was restored and I was again focused on serving the Lord.
…more

No Jesus Without Mary
Looking back at my Evangelical Bible church background, there was someone missing. We had a strong faith in Jesus Christ. We were experts in Bible knowledge. We were taught to have a passion for evangelization and a compassionate heart to those in need. We had a warm Christian fellowship and were totally dedicated to the Lord — but we didn’t have Mary.
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History made! Philippine crowd for Pope Francis hits 6-7 million
Manila, Philippines, Jan 18, 2015 / 04:39 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican’s spokesman said that papal history was made Sunday during Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines where an estimated 6-7 million people attended his closing Mass.

“The official number that has been given to us is between six and seven million,” Father Federico Lombardi told journalists at a press conference in Manila on Sunday, calling it the “largest event of the history of the Popes.”
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A Person From the Moment of Conception
It is hard to believe it has been 42 years since the legalization of the murder in the womb popularly known as “abortion.” As we remember the legally drollish but culturally devastating decisions of the Supreme Court of “Roe” and “Doe” on Jan. 22, hopefully, all of us will become reinvigorated in the on-going battle to save the lives of our weakest and most vulnerable brothers and sisters in what was once the sanctuary of a mother’s womb. Now, it has become a more dangerous place to be than Iraq or Afghanistan.
…more

The Power of the Message: “It is Good that You Exist”
Oftentimes, when I sifting through angry emails or moderating the comboxes and releasing comments from people who would presume to tell me I am going to hell, or that I am “outside of the church” (as an aside, I am fascinated by people who declare that on the basis of a single word, they know all about me and the state of my soul; there are people in Vegas who would pay cash-money to see that trick) I think back to what my dear Pope Benedict XVI, my spiritual “Pop-pop” has said:
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Is His Yoke Really Easy?
It’s hard to believe in something that happened so long ago. We might romantically dream of being there in the pages of the Gospel ourselves: witnessing Jesus’ miracles, following him through the countryside, hearing the tenor of his voice. These are not only the thoughts of saints, but also of sinners, like the Misfit in Flannery O’Connor’s most famous story, A Good Man Is Hard To Find. On an abandoned road in rural Georgia he holds the grandmother at gunpoint; she pleads with him to believe in Jesus’ resurrection and not kill her like he did her family. But the Misfit replies: “If I had of been there I would of known and I wouldn’t be like I am now.”
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Climbing the Spiritual El Capitan
These week two amazing guys did the first free climb of the Dawn Wall of El Capitan in Yosemite.

Kevin J0rgeson and Tommy Cauldwell spent nineteen days on the cliff face ascending a granite wall twice the height of the Empire State Building.
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Was Your Marriage “meant to be”?
That Matt Walsh is one of the best voices for Catholic values in my generation. He presents truth to the world unabashedly and eloquently. I have often wanted to high-five him for his most controversial posts, and if there was a chance to win an interview and free coffee with him, I would jump at the opportunity (as high as a third trimester mama can). But there is in this one piece, a teeny point where I have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Walsh. It’s the one where he claims that his marriage was “not meant to be” because I’m of the position that it could be. Here’s why:
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The 4 Temperaments: Do You Know Yours?
Just as all people are born with brown eyes or blue eyes or dark hair or light hair, everyone also inherits from birth a particular temperament that gives individuality to a person.

In the classical and medieval world physicians referred to the four temperaments as the phlegmatic, melancholic, choleric, and sanguine that corresponded respectively to the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water.
…more

How to Observe Ordinary Time
The liturgical season of Christmas came to an end with the celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord this past Sunday. We have just concluded the first week of Ordinary Time, the longest season of the Church’s liturgical year, which began Monday.

Ordinary Time is separated into two parts of the liturgical year. It always begins on the Monday following the first Sunday after January 6th.
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Called and Consecrated
When I was growing up, we were urged to pray for vocations. That meant to pray for more priests and nuns. After all, they were the ones especially called by God. The rest of us had to figure out for ourselves what to do with our lives, what school to go to, who to marry, what job to get.
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Catholicism – The Original Mega Church
Pope Francis’ record breaking visit to the Philippines reminds the world of the sheer power of numbers when it comes to debates about religion.

Let the Oxford intellectuals like Dawkins squawk all they want about the evils of religion and the goodness of atheism.

They are a fly not even worth swatting when you consider the crowds in Brazil for World  Youth Day and the phenomenal crowd that turned out in Manila yesterday.

Between six and seven million souls braved the rain to celebrate Mass with Pope Francis.
…more

Ten Reasons Why I Am Grateful for Atheists
Not long ago I was engaged in an email conversation with an atheist.

He wrote to me out of the blue responding to a blog post I had written.

He seemed friendly enough so I went along with the conversation, first assuring him that I don’t argue with anybody online.

Arguments are out. Discussions are in.
…more

The Baby Promise
I remember it clearly.  I remember the day my future wife and I had the conversation about children.

She asked me, “How many children do you want to have?”

Me, being me, answered.  “Who cares?  Who cares how many children I want?”

My wife, already on her way to sainthood for choosing the cross that is me, said, “I mean, what do you think a good size family is?”
…more

‘Angel Formation’ Photographed in Northern Lights
hotographer Jón Hilmarsson had braved the Icelandic cold to witness the beauty of the Northern Lights many times before, but a recent photo shoot revealed some things he had never seen.

“This was the most beautiful and vivid northern light display I have ever seen,” Hilmarsson told Caters. “We usually see green auroras but that night I saw bright green, red and purple colour, which is very unusual.”

The image above shows the majestic and colorful display, but it also highlights another rarity.
…more

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

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