Scripture Study: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

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By Marc Massery (Jan 19, 2018)
Sunday, Jan. 21 — Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
• Jon 3:1-5, 10
• Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
• Cor 7:29-31
• Mk 1:14-20

Whenever we tap our cell phones, up pops the date, the hour, the minute, and even the seconds if we change the settings. Long gone are the days when we could only tell the time by the hands of a mechanical clock. But no matter how we view the hour, the readings for this Sunday remind us that "time is running out" (1 Cor 7:29).

In the second reading, St. Paul is teaching us that none of us has any control over the future. We could die today. Therefore, we need to live with a sense of urgency and devote the time we have left to serving what's eternal.

Saint Paul says, "From now on, let those having wives act as not having them" (1 Cor 7:29). We ought to subordinate everything in our lives — even our most important relationships — to the Gospel.

Saint Paul continues, "[let those] weeping [act] as not weeping" (1 Cor 7:30). Some of us are ill. Others are depressed, out of work, or have lost a loved one. Saint Paul is not advising us to ignore our problems and pretend like everything is fine. He's reminding us that all our trials, no matter how troubling, are temporary. In the midst of our struggles, the best we can do is to keep our eyes focused on the Gospel.

We often use our circumstances as an excuse to ignore the demands of the Gospel. We skip prayer, overindulge, treat our loved ones poorly — we put off changing because we think that our situation justifies inaction. We often say to ourselves things like, "When I'm not so busy at work, I'll pray every day. When I heal from this illness, I'll follow God's commandments. When I find the right person, I'll treat others with more compassion." But the circumstances of our lives, no matter how painful or distracting, should not keep us from handing our lives over to the Gospel. The Gospel message, after all, can comfort us during times of affliction.

While we can let our pain and suffering keep us from following our Gospel call, comfort and contentment can also bar the way. Many of us have the tendency to think, "I have plenty of time. I'll follow God when I'm older." To these people, St. Paul says, "[Let] those rejoicing [act] as not rejoicing" (1 Cor 7:30). When we are young, we are excited about life, and can view the Gospel as a burden. Religion, some think, is for the old who have nothing better for which to live. But St. Paul calls all people at all stages of life to make the Gospel number one. He says, "The world in its present form is passing away" (1 Cor 7:31). Our circumstances are temporary. We must, therefore, focus on that which will last forever.

In the Gospel reading from St. Mark, we hear the proclamation of the Gospel in its simplest form and see a couple examples of how to respond appropriately.

The Gospel passage begins with Christ saying, "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel" (Mk 1:15). With this proclamation, we are reminded once again that time is short. Jesus is calling us, right now, to turn from our sins and follow Him.

After proclaiming this message, Christ passes the Sea of Galilee and sees Simon and Andrew "casting their nets into the sea" (Mk 1:16). He says, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Mk 1:17). The Lord does not wait for the perfect time to call His disciples. Christ comes to Simon and Andrew in the middle of their daily work. He does not even wait for them to come ashore.

Simon and Andrew do not say, "Can you come back later? We just started fishing." In fact, they do not say a word. They do not stop to think. They jump into action. They could have come up with a million reasons to say no, but the Gospel writer simply says, "Then they abandoned their nets and followed him" (Mk 1:18) In an instant, Simon and Andrew leave their old lives behind and hand themselves over to the Gospel.

As Jesus walks a little further, the same thing happens again, this time with James and John. They, too, are in their boat fishing, in a slightly different position than Simon and Andrew. They are "in a boat mending their nets" (Mk 1:19). They, too, drop what they are doing, and just like Simon and Andrew, follow Jesus at once.

We all have our own excuses to push aside our commitment to the Gospel. But whether we are 20, 40, 60, or 80, whether we are unemployed or have our dream job, whether we are single, married, or have a vocation, whether we are wealthy or poor, depressed or content, we are all called right now — regardless of our circumstances — to live out the call of the Gospel.

Christ tells us what we need to do: "Repent and believe." If we listen, He repeats this message to us every day. When we realize how little control we have over our future, how quickly our time passes away, we will stop making excuses and jump into action like Simon, Andrew, James, and John. The apostles eventually fell, and we will fall, too. But like a clock, we need to keep moving forward every day, every hour, every minute, and every second.

After all, we don't know how much time we may have left.

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elizabeth loberes - Jan 19, 2018

nothing is permanent so make the most of that short time sharing help spreading good news guiding our neighbors to ease their hardship in life.