Third Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year B
January 24, 2021 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Jonah 3:1-5;10 | Psalm 25:4-9
I Corinthians 7:29-31 | Mark 1:14-20

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Do you want to be a disciple of Jesus?  If your answer is “yes”, this Third Sunday in Ordinary Time will explain how you can become one if you are not one already.

God speaks to us in many ways.  Today, Jesus calls the fishermen Simon, Andrew, James, and John to discipleship.

Unlike the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, the Gospel of Mark does not begin with a narrative about the birth of Jesus.  Instead, Mark begins by telling about the preaching of John the Baptist, “A voice in the wilderness sent to prepare for the Lord” is how John the Baptist is described.

In contrast to last week’s Gospel from John, Jesus takes the initiative in calling his first disciples.  As Fr. David mentioned last week, it was more typical of first-century rabbinical schools for students to seek out rabbis asking to be their disciples.  But in Mark’s Gospel Jesus invites his disciples to learn from Him.

The call to discipleship is mentioned throughout the Bible.  An example is found in Luke 14 where a disciple is defined as someone who is abandoned and surrendered to Jesus, someone who has an undivided heart that is wholly dedicated to loving the Lord.  The call to discipleship is a call to leave the world behind and follow Jesus.

A disciple is a pupil or student who both adopts the philosophy and ideas of their teacher as well as spreading the word to others to teach them the same philosophy.

Many of you may remember the story of Zacchaeus, the wealthy tax collector who many despised and regarded as a sinner due to his profession.  Well, Zacchaeus decided that he wanted to know Jesus and followed Him with the crowds.  But Zacchaeus was short in stature and he could not see Jesus through all the people, so he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed up a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when He went by.

When Jesus got to that point, He looked up and saw Zacchaeus.  The people in the crowd were probably thinking   “here’s this rich man up in a tree trying to see Jesus, so they laughed at Zacchaeus.  But what did Jesus do?   He said,    “Zacchaeus, come down.  I must have dinner at your house.”  And Zacchaeus was delighted because he knew he was a sinner and yet Jesus wanted to come to his house!

Zacchaeus was willing to change his life by giving away half of his possessions to the poor and paying back anyone who felt they had been cheated by four times the amount.

Today’s scripture readings speak of repentance, of turning oneself around, and following God’s call.  God sends Jonah to Nineveh to tell the people to repent and change from their wickedness and evil ways.  In our Gospel from Mark, Jesus calls the fishermen: Andrew, Simon Peter, James, and John to change from their current occupation and come follow him and He will make you fishers of men.  Becoming a fisher of man meant that Jesus was going to use His disciples to grow the Kingdom of God.

Our first reading today is from the book of Jonah.  This little book can be read in about five minutes and was written by a storyteller who imbedded us for life with the image of a man, Jonah, being swallowed by a whale and living inside the whale for three days before being set free.  God called Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and tell the people there to repent their wickedness and evil ways or they would be destroyed.  When God saw how they changed from their evil ways, God did not carry out the plan.

In our second reading from First Corinthians, St. Paul urges all Christians to accept the permanence of their place in eternity with Jesus and the temporary nature of everything in this world.  Paul is challenging the attitude that we work to make life more comfortable and satisfying and that we seek things that we think will bring us status and advantage over others.  Instead, we should integrate our lives of worship, family, work, and society and develop physical, intellectual, cultural, moral, and spiritual assets.

When Paul states, “Time is running out” and “For the world in its present form is passing away” he is referring to his belief that the last days are approaching and therefore we need to immediately make room for Jesus in our earthly lives.

As we ponder what the value of Jesus is to us, how important are his teachings about wealth:  that it is important to have enough, but we do not need to keep on trying to have more and more.   Is it really necessary for us to become rich? is that your goal?  Or do you want to have just enough to sustain the fulness of life and spread the rest around by giving to the poor and needy?

It is a sad reality that there is an extraordinary gap between the rich and the poor in this country that continues to get wider and wider.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus states to Simon Peter and Andrew, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”  Some biblical scholars claim Jesus was referring to a passage from the Book of Jeremiah, which refers to the restoration of Israel.  It reads:

“Yet behold the days are coming declares the Lord, when men will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of Egypt’.  Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and all other lands to which He had banished them.’ For I will return them to their land that I gave to their ancestors.  But for now, I will send many fishermen declares the Lord, and they will catch them.  After that, I will send for many hunters and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill, even from the clefts of the rocks.”

Jesus was not only trying to connect with Andrew and Simon Peter by using words that matched their occupation, but He was also using the prophet Jeremiah’s expression as presenting Himself as the one who would restore Israel, as explained in the Book of Jeremiah.  Jesus also describes the apostle’s calling:  participating in the history of salvation and gathering followers and bringing them into God’s family.

In today’s Gospel, the fishermen Simon, Andrew, James, and John immediately put aside their livelihoods to become disciples of Jesus.  They did not say, “I have to think about it.”, but took immediate action.  The Kingdom of God is here for us all.  Jesus is calling all of us.

Do you want to be a part of it?


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