21 January 20183 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
3 Ordinary Time
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle B - Mark 1:14-20

The penitent asked, "Does God accept repentance?" The priest asked in turn, "Do you throw away dirty laundry?" "No," replied the sinner. The priest said, "Neither will God throw you away." Anthony de Mello writes, "Jesus proclaimed the good news, yet he was rejected. Not because it was good, but because it was new. We don't want new things when they involve change and most particularly if they cause us to say, 'I was wrong.'" We are told the only person who welcomes change is a wet baby. A Scot poet wrote a description of himself with which we can identify. "My life reminded me of a ruined temple. What strength, what proportion in some parts! What unsightly gaps, what prostrate ruins in others!" "Repent and believe the good news" are the first words that Jesus the Christ spoke in the Gospel of Mark. So one must conclude that this brief message must be of paramount importance to Him.

They are but six words and yet they continue to turn the world upside down. And they send us into denial. I lean here on William Barclay's research. The first word of Christ's message is that frightening word "repent." The sinner, according to Avery Dulles, has only two options - to be pardoned or to be punished. The Nazarene defines repentance as not merely saying, "I'm sorry" but also I will change my life." While God forgets the sin, He does not forget the repentant sinner. When God forgives us in the confessional, He suffers from total amnesia. Heaven, we are advised, is filled with converted sinners and the good news is there is room for billions more. But we must repent. Christ would remind us, "No matter what your past may resemble, your future is spotless. And the saints are saints precisely because they kept on trying." Modern culture dismisses sin. But the Nazarene does not buy into that message. A New Testament concordance contains a dozen columns on the subject of sin and only eight on love.

God would remind us that He gave Moses on Mount Sinai Ten Commandments and not Ten Suggestions. He never said, "Keep my commandments unless of course you have a headache." The second term of interest in the six word message is the good news. The news is good precisely because it brings us to the truth. Until the advent of the Teacher, people could only search for God. No less a person than the mighty Job in 23:3 shouted out in pain, "Oh, that today I might find him, that I might come to his judgment seat!" But the Nazarene says to today's Jobs, "He who sees me sees the Father." The good news brings hope. The ancients dwelled in a culture of gloom. The Roman philosopher Seneca (3 BC-65 AD) spoke of "our helplessness in necessary things." Try as they might, people somehow could never get out of square one. They constantly found themselves behind the infamous eight ball.

Their feet were forever tied together. Christ's arrival changes that scene. St Paul in Colossians 1:23 tells his readers that they must not be "shaken from the hope you gained when you heard the Gospel." Perhaps Paul's message inspired Emily Dickinson to opine that hope is the feather in the soul of each of us. The future, says Teilhard, is in the hands of those who can give people valid reasons to live and hope." The good news offers everyone peace. Virtue and evil are constantly fighting for the upper hand in each of us. Morally we are split personalities, moral schizophrenics. St Paul identifies with our human condition in the famous words, "The good I would do that I do not. The evil I would not do that I do."

This is what the Scot poet was speaking of. Yet, if we surrender ourselves to the Christ, those Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde personalities in us can at last become one worthwhile entity. St Paul advises (Ephesians 6): "Let the shoes on your feet be the good news of peace." If we take his recommendation, our feet will become unbound. We need not fear where they will take us. We will walk over pebbles and feel no pain. Abraham Lincoln was asked what he thought of a sermon. He replied it was good but had one defect. The preacher didn't ask us to be great. One cannot say that of Jesus in today's Gospel. We ask the mystic, "How does one get to heaven?" She answers, "The same way you get to Carnegie Hall. Practice! Practice! Practice!" Go for the golden apple. The aphorism is correct. While it's risky to go out on a limb, that's where the apple is. 



Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
Frjoeshomilies.net
3 Ordinary Time
Third Sunday of Ordinary Time: Faith Has Consequences

A while back I came upon a book that seems to be intended for young people, but in reality contains wonderful meditations for all of us. Actually, we are all still new to our faith, even if we are in our 80's. Just as the Church is ever ancient ever new, so for me and for all of us, our faith is ever ancient and ever new. The book I'm referring to is George Weigel's Letters to a Young Catholic. Jesus Christ is forever new. George Weigel, by the way, is the author of Witness to Hope, the extensive biography of St. Pope John Paul II. Letters to a Young Catholic is far less extensive, easier to read, but far more challenging. Each chapter of this book presents a particular place in Catholicism, such as the tomb of St. Peter, Baltimore, the first Diocese in the United States, etc, and then develops a particular topic that is fundamental to Catholicism, like Eucharistic devotion, Marian devotion, the meaning of suffering and death, etc. In the light of today's readings from scripture, I would like to present one of these topics as George Weigel presented it.

First of all this Sunday's readings. All three of this Sunday's readings present an urgent call. Jonah tells the people of Ninevah that their sins have resulted in their suffering God's wrath. They would listen and repent. St. Paul tells the Corinthians that time is running out. They need to embrace the Gospel before they have no more time. Jesus begins his preaching by proclaiming, "The time of fulfillment is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel." He then calls his first disciples, Simon and Andrew, James and John. There is an urgency in God's call that has a profound effect not just upon the person called, but upon others. This brings us to George Weigel. Weigel's tenth letter speaks about how vocations change lives. He speaks about Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko. Two sentences caught my attention. The first is Faith demands consequences.

The second is: a career is a job, an occupation you current have, but a vocation is something that you are. First, faith demands consequences. Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko was a simple young priest of the Archdiocese of Warsaw with a frail voice and weak physical makeup. He had not been a brilliant seminarian. He was assigned to be an assistant priest at St. Stanislos Kosta Parish in Warsaw. In 1980 the 34 your old priest was also asked to minister to the steel workers at a Warsaw steel mill. This was at the time of the Solidarity protests against communism throughout Poland, but particularly in Gdansk. In 1981 the Polish Communist government declared martial law against its own citizens. Shortly after this Fr. Popieluszko began saying a monthly Mass for the fatherland. At first hundreds, then thousands and then tens of thousands attended the Mass or packed the streets around the Church. Fr. Popieluszko relentlessly repeated the theme given by Pope John Paul II on his first visit to Poland: banish evil with good. He preached non violence.

But he also preached the moral duty of resistence. He told the people that they had to take sides: good or evil, truth or falsehood, love or hatred. Michael Kaufmann of the New York Times wrote that here there was a man who was teaching that defiance of authority was an obligation of the heart, of religion, of humanity and of nationhood. The people heard, but so did their communist leaders. On October 19, 1984, Fr. Jerzy was kidnaped and murdered. He embodied the truth. He embodied the faith. And he died for the truth and for the faith. Within five years, the communist government fell at the hands of the overwhelming desire of the Polish people to worship when and how they saw fit. Fr. Popieluszko won. As you know, soon after the fall of communism in Poland, communist fell throughout Eastern Europe including what was then the Soviet Union. Faith demands consequences. We cannot be people of faith if we do not speak out against immorality. We cannot be people of faith, if we allow our government to continue any immoral practice.

Tomorrow is the grim anniversary of Roe vs Wade, the decision of the Supreme Court to allow abortion. Some have raised this decision to the level of one of the articles found in the Bill of Rights. People of faith have gathered in Washington DC and throughout the country to protest this. Of course the liberal elements of the media will show pictures of the few hundreds of abortion supporters and equate them with the tens of thousands who will march in protest. They will also present the Pro Lifers as fringe radicals, and they will ignore the fact that the majority of Americans are against abortion. What is missing in all this is that those who are marching and protesting throughout the country are doing so because they are people of faith and people who deeply love our country. They cannot sit back and allow lies, and evil, and death to continue. It is the same for every issue. As Catholics we cannot allow our country to take advantage of the poor and the sick, to shore up its economy on the backs of poorer nations, or to promote our national interests with blood. We cannot sit back and be non committal to evil around us. Where and when we see evil, we have to react against it. Faith demands consequences, demands action. Weigel's second statement follows this: a vocation is something that you are. In the course of a lifetime, modern people have many careers, many jobs.

A young girl may begin as an aide in a day care. Then she may become an Early Childhood teacher. After a while, she may change professions and become a realtor. Maybe, she may go into investing and become a financial consultant. People have many jobs, many careers. But this is not who they are, it is just something they are currently doing. A vocation is something that you are. That same girl may become a wife and then a mother. Wife and mother are not jobs, they are who she is. They are vocations. Even when her children move out to begin independent lives, she is still a mother, their mother. Even if she and her husband break up, she is still a wife, his wife. The only exception to this would be if it can be shown that she never was a wife in a sacramental sense. Same thing for a man. Same thing for a priest. Priesthood is not a career that can be changed as some other man might change jobs.

A person who is called to the priesthood is a priest forever, even if he no longer is in ministry. When Jesus called Simon and Andrew, James and John, you and me, he did not call us to do something. He called us to be something. He called us to be disciples. Why do you train your children in the faith? Why do you guard against immorality in your home? Why do you worship God daily in your homes and weekly here in Church? We do what we do because this is who we are. That is why we feel so disjointed when our human limitations take over and we give in to evil. We lose our sincerity, our integrity, when what we do is opposed to whom we are.

But when we respond to that call of Christ within us to be Christian in all our actions, then our actions reflect our inner life, the life of Jesus Christ we have been called to embrace. Then we become who we are. Weigel concludes that people who are determined to live the truth of whom they are, people who are determined to live vocationally, are the most dynamic force in history. Their lives don't just become history, they become His Story, the story of God at work in the world. And that is what Catholicism is about. We want to change the world into God's world. We are willing to do what we need to do to be whom we have been called to be. The call of Faith, our vocation as Christians is urgent, just as the call to faith was urgent for the first disciples, for the people of Corinith, and for the people of Ninevah. Faith has consequences. Faith is dynamic. Faith is counter cultural. Faith changes the world. Faith is manifested in the integrity of men and women who live who they are. May we have the courage to be Catholic.



Homily from Father Phil Bloom
Stmaryvalleybloom.org
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
3 Ordinary Time
Becoming a Missionary Disciple Week 2: Let Jesus Lift Your Guilt (January 21, 2018)
Bottom line: Accept Jesus. Let him lift your guilt. Become a missionary disciple.

These Sundays before Lent we are hearing Jesus' call to become missionary disciples. As Archbishop Sartain has pointed out, unless we hear that call, the Church (at least here) has no future. Last week we saw the first missionary disciple - Andrew. He meets Jesus who invites him to "come and see." Andrew then goes to his brother Simon Peter, "We have found the Messiah," he says. We also saw last week that Jesus comes as The Lamb. Like a sacrificial lamb he offers himself to take away our sins. This bring us to a difficult topic: sin and guilt. I know at this point some of you will shut me out. "I don't want to hear about guilt. Guilt cause so much harm. I agree. I don't like guilt either. The last thing I desire is a guilt trip. I want to free people from guilt - and myself too. But how?

Consider three instances of guilt: 1) Someone feels guilty throwing out food while people in the world are starving. 2) A person feels guilt for spending 3 hours a day on social media. 3) A guys feels guilty for indulging certain thoughts about his neighbor's wife. In each of those cases you could say a lot of things - ranging from "don't sweat the small stuff" to "be careful." And we recognize that guilt is often misplaced because we are subject to forces beyond our control. Christians refer to these forces as the world, the flesh and the devil. The world is the culture we swim in.

The flesh - those impulses that drive us. The devil - spiritual entities, demons who assail us. Those forces can overwhelm us. Yet we know they don't have total control. How do we know? Because Jesus tells us, "repent." Repent means to make a new beginning, to refocus one's mind. It happened in Nineveh when Jonah preached. It can happen in this Valley. It can happen in your life, your family. Repent. But Jesus doesn't simply say "repent." He says, "Repent and believe in the Gospel." To believe in the Gospel means to accept Jesus as the Lamb of God - the one who takes away the sins of the word. As Evangelicals say, accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. You know, it really is good news that Jesus takes away our sins. It means I don't have go around projecting an image that "I'm OK." Or at least I'm not as messed up as that other guy.

Or that I need to keep making excuses for what I did. No, forgiveness of sins means I can always make a fresh start. I can ask Jesus to take charge of my life. Martin Luther expressed this in a dramatic way. Now I don't like the fact that Martin Luther broke the Church into a thousand pieces, but he did have a striking way of expressing the Gospel. He pictures the human person like a horse. Where we go depends on who is in the saddle. If the devil is in the saddle, we're going to go in one direction - to destruction and bitterness.

If Jesus is in the saddle, he will lead in a different direction - to a glorious city. You and I may be subject to a lot of forces that determine us: environment, heredity, inner impulses. Still we can choose who sits in the saddle. The invitation this Sunday is to repent and believe in the Gospel - to accept Jesus and become a disciple, even a missionary disciple. Let Jesus lift your guilt. To return to the three examples of guilt: Wasting food, well, allow Jesus to direct your Stewardship. Three hours a day on social media - pray and Jesus will accompany your communication with others. And those troubling, tormenting thoughts: Open your heart to Jesus. He has his way of untangling our lives. Be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day. Neither was Jerusalem. As our Psalm says, "Teach me your ways, O Lord." Accept Jesus. Let him lift your guilt. Become a missionary disciple. Repent and believe in the Gospel. Amen.



Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
3 Ordinary Time
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time,
Classic Mark 1: 14–20
Gospel Summary


Today's gospel tells us that Jesus went to Galilee to begin his messianic ministry. We have become so accustomed to hearing this that we no longer notice how odd it was. Jerusalem was the religious and political center of Israel and anyone announcing a new future for Israel would have been expected to declare his intentions there. As Jesus' ministry develops, however, it becomes clear that Jerusalem was the one place in Israel that was least likely to accept his message. The powerful people in the capital city had far too much to protect. They could tolerate only a "controlled” reform. Mark wastes no time in pointing out the implications of the public mission of Jesus in Galilee: "This is the time of fulfillment.”

All the hopes and dreams of Israel are about to be realized. The thousand-plus years of waiting are over. This is so because "The kingdom of God is at hand.” The hopes of Israel had been centered in the promised messianic kingdom through which God would deliver his people from bondage and bring everlasting peace. At long last the promise is being fulfilled; the Messiah has arrived. But the kingdom that Jesus had in mind was both far less and far more that anyone in Israel had imagined—far less, because it would not mean the end of the hated Roman occupation; far more, because it would reveal a Messiah who is the Son of God. Thus, as their small dreams were crushed, unimaginable divine dreams were being substituted.

To nurture these dreams, Jesus would choose, not clever politicians, but simple honest fishermen. He knew that for his purposes a good and generous heart was more important than a proud and ambitious head. Life Implications This gospel seems especially appropriate for the early years of a new millennium, for we are painfully aware that, though 2000 years have passed, we have not yet seen the fulfillment of God's promises. The solution to this dilemma is the recognition that the fulfillment envisioned by Jesus is constantly being offered to us. It is a "rolling” fulfillment that each person must discover in his or her own lifetime.

As sAs such, it should be the primary project of our lives. Jesus has come, but he is also still coming, and each one of us must ask whether he is being welcomed. Fulfillment is offered; it is never imposed. To live in the expectation of fulfillment is to live in the bittersweet world of promise. What we hope for is still awaited, and that is painful; but we also live in joyful expectation of what will be, and that is comforting beyond words. We may be struggling in a dark valley, but the horizon is illuminated by God's utterly trustworthy promise. We note that Jesus called his first disciples from their workplaces. This is a reminder that there is a purpose in life beyond work and that this larger purpose is found in our response to God's call to walk with him. This means taking time for prayer and gradually getting to know the Lord as the very center of our lives. For we must come to understand that it is in him alone that the value of our work and the precious gift of other people will be found again and again…unto eternity. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B.


Third Sunday in Ordinary Time,
Classic Mark 1: 14–20
Gospel Summary


Today's gospel tells us that Jesus went to Galilee to begin his messianic ministry. We have become so accustomed to hearing this that we no longer notice how odd it was. Jerusalem was the religious and political center of Israel and anyone announcing a new future for Israel would have been expected to declare his intentions there. As Jesus' ministry develops, however, it becomes clear that Jerusalem was the one place in Israel that was least likely to accept his message. The powerful people in the capital city had far too much to protect. They could tolerate only a "controlled" reform. Mark wastes no time in pointing out the implications of the public mission of Jesus in Galilee: "This is the time of fulfillment." All the hopes and dreams of Israel are about to be realized. The thousand-plus years of waiting are over. This is so because "The kingdom of God is at hand."

The hopes of Israel had been centered in the promised messianic kingdom through which God would deliver his people from bondage and bring everlasting peace. At long last the promise is being fulfilled; the Messiah has arrived. But the kingdom that Jesus had in mind was both far less and far more that anyone in Israel had imagined—far less, because it would not mean the end of the hated Roman occupation; far more, because it would reveal a Messiah who is the Son of God. Thus, as their small dreams were crushed, unimaginable divine dreams were being substituted. To nurture these dreams, Jesus would choose, not clever politicians, but simple honest fishermen. He knew that for his purposes a good and generous heart was more important than a proud and ambitious head. />
Life Implications This gospel seems especially appropriate for the early years of a new millennium, for we are painfully aware that, though 2000 years have passed, we have not yet seen the fulfillment of God's promises. The solution to this dilemma is the recognition that the fulfillment envisioned by Jesus is constantly being offered to us. It is a "rolling" fulfillment that each person must discover in his or her own lifetime. As such, it should be the primary project of our lives. Jesus has come, but he is also still coming, and each one of us must ask whether he is being welcomed. Fulfillment is offered; it is never imposed. To live in the expectation of fulfillment is to live in the bittersweet world of promise.

What we hope for is still awaited, and that is painful; but we also live in joyful expectation of what will be, and that is comforting beyond words. We may be struggling in a dark valley, but the horizon is illuminated by God's utterly trustworthy promise. We note that Jesus called his first disciples from their workplaces. This is a reminder that there is a purpose in life beyond work and that this larger purpose is found in our response to God's call to walk with him. This means taking time for prayer and gradually getting to know the Lord as the very center of our lives. For we must come to understand that it is in him alone that the value of our work and the precious gift of other people will be found again and again…unto eternity. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B.



Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Alexmcallister.co.uk
3 Ordinary Time
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

There are two very interesting words used in today's Gospel reading: ‘time' and ‘repent' I think it would be interesting if we took a bit of a look at them. In Greek these two words are kairos and metanoia. Kairos meaning time; and metanoia which means conversion or repentance. Jesus said, ‘The time has come.' For us there is only one word for time, but in Greek there are two words kairos and chronos. Chronos means the passage of time. We use it in English when we say that someone has a chronic illness. Often this is misunderstood as meaning that they have a very serious illness but actually it means a very long illness. A chronic illness is one that goes on over many years. He's got a case of chronic arthritis, for example. Kairos is something different and it's the word Mark uses. It means a propitious moment, a suitable time. By Jesus saying the time has come, he means that this is the favourable moment for him to begin his ministry. This is the time appointed by God for his salvation to be made manifest to the world. The hour has come and Jesus begins his ministry.

But each of us has his or her own kairos, our own propitious moment. There is a time in each of our lives when things come to a head and we are faced with a fundamental choice. A sacred moment when Jesus confronts us with a choice –when he invites us to make a decision. Maybe you have already experienced your particular kairos long ago. You can look back on your life and realise that at a certain age everything pointed in a particular direction and you chose the road to follow in life. Maybe over the years since then there have been many vicissitudes but I am certain that you do not regret the decision you made to deepen your life with Christ. But maybe that hour is yet to come. Look at Saint Dismas, the one we call the good thief. His hour came at the last possible moment, but come it did. How could he have predicted that it would come as he was dying on a cross and that his neighbour up there on Calvary would be the Divine Saviour himself? In the New Testament this word kairos is very connected with the other important word in today's Gospel metanoia –conversion.

Jesus says, ‘The Kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent and believe the Good News.' This is probably the shortest summary anywhere of the message of Jesus and it is a call that echoes down through the centuries to us today. Jesus says to each one of us now, ‘The Kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent and believe the Good News.' Repent –Metanoia quite literally means turning around. That is what repentance means, turning around from one's old way of life and beginning to live a new life. Ask any alcoholic or drug addict, they know exactly what this turning around means. To give up an addiction whether it be to alcohol, drugs, spending or sex, or any other addiction for that matter, absolutely requires a complete reorientation of one's life. It is the same with sin. If we are to try to give up being selfish, spiteful, jealous, envious, greedy or deceitful it means a complete turning around. It means going in a totally different direction.

It is no mistake that I compare sin with addiction. Sin is addictive. I used to be chaplain in Eastwood Park Women's Prison and ten minutes in there would tell you that crime is addictive, so is sin. It's a downward spiral. It is allowing evil into your life and letting it fester there; the only cure is to call on the help of God and to walk away, to leave it behind just like those disciples left their nets on the shore. Deep ingrained bad habits are best countered by introducing deep ingrained good habits. The addict knows this. He has to substitute going to AA for going to the pub. We have to do the same. If we don't go to Jesus we will go to the devil. As we have said metanoia means turning around. But not turning around to simply stop there. No, it means turning around to go in a different direction. Why else would we turn around? Just to have a look at Jesus? No that would be simply trivial.

As with those disciples it means turning around one's life, leaving our former way of life and following Jesus. Turning around in order to go after him. We have to leave our nets on the ground and begin to live a new life. In this new life we live with Jesus. We spend our days always conscious of his closeness to us. We enter into a state of communion with him. In many different ways he nourishes us and draws us ever closer to himself. It is a big challenge and maybe you feel that the time for you isn't just yet. But that time will surely come. The kairos will arrive. The decision will have to be made. And it will have to be made quickly, putting it off won't help at all. And once the decision is made there can be no going back. Once we start we can't stop and return to our old ways for that would mean rejection of God. The people of Nineveh heard Jonah's preaching and did what he told them to do.

They gave up their evil ways. They fasted and did penance in repentance of their sins and God relented and drew back his punishment. No one was more surprised at this than Jonah! The People of Israel regarded the Ninevites as the worst people in the world and the message of Jonah is that if even these can repent and begin to live a new life then so can anyone. As St Paul says this world is passing away. The years of our own lives hurtle by. A year ago seems like just yesterday. Of course, we don't know when God will call us to himself. But we know that our life on this earth will certainly come to an end and that indeed our time is already running out. Time is short. The hour has come for us to choose. So, let us choose goodness, truth, wisdom and love. Let us take the Lord Jesus to be our guide. Let us go where he leads us. Let his words be on our lips. Let his thoughts be in our heads. Let his joy be in our hearts. Let his love overflow in our lives. This is the kairos: now is the favourable time, this is the day of salvation.


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