26 January 20203 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
3 Ordinary Time
Third Sunday of the Year - A Cycle - Matthew 4:12-23

Four year old Jill asked, "God is bigger then us and lives in us, right?" Her mom agreed. Jill blurted out, "If God is bigger than us and lives in us, shouldn't He show through?" Jill is a promising theologian.

Jesus possessed a sophisticated Early Warning System. Word reached him that John the Baptist had been jailed. He knew if He wanted to avoid arrest, He must flee John's country. His instincts pointed Him to Galilee. Even blindfolded, He knew that territory well. Nobody would find Him there. Besides, the time had come for Jesus to begin His preaching about His Father's Kingdom. He arrived in the north after a forced march.

He checked in with His mother and had home-cooked meals. After His forty day fast, Mary must have been terrified at the looks of Him. He sold His tools at a yard sale. He would not be needing them again. He put the funds in the Nazareth Savings Bank for His mom and got a Visa credit card.

Jesus was about to begin His second career. It would last but three years. Yet, the world still reels from that decision.

Then He set up His headquarters not in Nazareth but in Capernaum. That was a gutsy call. Like many seaports, Capernaum was seedy. Its citizens were among the most violent in Galilee. Many would steal the eyes out of your head and tell you that you were born blind. Citizens there would prefer to be called former citizens of Capernaum.

But it had one big plus. The town was sitting on a heavily traveled road. Merchants from Syria and Phoenicia in the north would motel overnight in the town as they headed south. Those coming out of Egypt and other African countries heading for the north country would do likewise. Jesus would never want for a ready audience. These people would listen to fresh ideas. They would carry His story to whatever countries their business took them. That is the reason we non-Palestinians are Christians today.

Also from Capernaum He could move out into all of the province of Galilee. It was not a large area. It measured about fifty miles from bottom to top and perhaps twenty-five miles from west to east. Jesus was no stranger to walking. He was in marvelous condition. In addition, the plentiful winds on the Sea of Galilee would carry Him in any direction by sailboat taxi.

He had to pick up a team first before He began His serious work. Thus His famous invitation to the brothers Simon and Andrew and to the brothers James and John.

These men were no spiritual midgets. Jesus had first met them down in John the Baptist's country. Like Him, they had researched the Baptizer and liked what they had seen and heard. They were conscious of the spirit portion of their own persons.

Nor was Jesus an unknown to them. They had traveled in His company. No doubt they had heard Him preach often. They may even have witnessed miracles. They had become as charmed of Jesus as we are.

When they accepted His invitation to sign on, they were bold men. They were trading in a middle-class living for a precarious one. They were, after all, commercial fishermen. They owned their own boats. When was the last time you could afford to put fresh lobster, crabmeat, and shrimp on your table?

Jesus was offering them not peace but the sword. And an executioner's two-edged sword awaited three of them a short way down the road.

Jesus' invitation was directed not to their heads but to their hearts. Had it been the other way around, they might not have enlisted as charter members of a start up enterprise. Very few of us reason our way into the Church. Most of us become hypnotized with Jesus. It is not His clever words that move us. It is His very person. He was and remains a complete original. One genuine contact and one is addicted for life. (William Barclay)

Once Jesus had His team, He began His work in earnest. Do reflect that today's Gospel tells us Jesus "cured the people of every disease and illness." Count them and you will discover that nine of the ten miracles in Matthew's Gospel concern healings.

He was concerned both getting these people to heaven and in helping them today. His deeds, said an observer, became His message. So it must be with us.

There is no dearth of work. According to the United Nations, 800 million people and rising are malnourished in the world.

This week let God show through you. Do not disappoint Jill, who opened this homily, and above all don't disappoint yourself.

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
3 Ordinary Time
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Light to Those in Darkness

In today's readings we come upon the same passage twice.  In both Isaiah, the first reading and in our gospel from  Matthew we heard:
Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,

the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,

Galilee of the Gentiles,

the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,

on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.

The first is a prophecy.  The second time is a report.  Isaiah said this would happen.  Matthew reports that it did happen.

Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, where were these places?  They were in the northern part of Galilee.  One of the cities there was Capernaum.  Jesus made Capernaum His base of operation when He started His ministry. These are the people who would first experience the Light.

Four of them were fishermen: Simon, later to be called Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James and his brother John. The Lord's call to them was so powerful that they immediately left their boats and nets. From the very beginning they were told that they would have a mission, they would become fishers of men.  The people of Galilee and beyond, far beyond, would no longer walk in darkness.

But many people still walk in darkness.  Many people choose to walk in darkness.  There are many who do not want to know the truth.  They would rather stay in the dark.  Here are three examples: Many people do not want to know what happens in an abortion clinic.  Nor do they want to know how a woman's life is forever changed when the life within her is destroyed.  This is not pleasant.  Many people would rather stay in the dark.  A second example, many people do not want to know about the 32-billion-dollar human trafficking industry.  They don't want to hear about sexual slavery much of which is generated by the porn industry.  That is not pleasant to hear or to think about.  They would rather stay in the dark. A final example, there are many people who do not want to hear how drugs, including marijuana, are destroying our society. They hide behind the "everybody's doing it" argument and choose to chance destroying their own lives. 

Those who have been called by Christ to be his disciples, all of us, have to have the courage to bring the light of His Truth to those who choose darkness.

There are many people who are thrown into darkness.  Due to no fault of their own, they are put into horrible situations.  There are many children who have been shuffled from home to home in the foster system and then forced to make their way alone in the world when they turn 18. There are many elderly people who are left with hardly any income to support themselves.  Just the other day a thin lady in her late 80's living on $1,100 a month and avoiding necessities like decent food told me that her fondest hope was that she would die soon so she would not have to worry about her bills any longer.  That is no way for a person to finish his or her life.  By the way, the money you give to the poor was used to help her.  Your generosity has brought light to many who are in darkness.

Sometimes people will say to me, and, I'm sure, to you, "There is nothing anybody can do.  There is no way out for me."  Well, there is something we can do. We can love them.  We can help wherever possible.  We can let them know that they are not alone in the world.  We can pray with them.  We can pray for them.

The world is beautiful for those who are in the light.  The world is horrible for those who are in darkness.  We are in the light.  We need to bring this light to others.  Like Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John, we need to be fishers of men.

We need to let people know about Jesus Christ.  We need to let them know that He is alive and active in the world.  We need to let them know that He loves them.  We need to let them know that He is calling them to come into His Light.  We are not followers of Jesus Christ for ourselves.  We have not been called to embrace a selfish relationship with the Lord.  We have been called so we can use our own unique talents to bring others to Christ. Our central prayer, the fundamental prayer of the Church, is the Mass.  The word Mass is derived from the Latin word for sending. We come together each week, and for some, every day, to receive the grace, the strength we need to complete the mission we have been given to engage others and lead them to join us in the journey of the Kingdom of God.  "Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand," Jesus preached.  "We all need to repent, for the Kingdom of God is here," we echo. 

We need to use our unique gifts for the Lord's Kingdom.  One person can write well.  Another is an organizer.  A third handles finances brilliantly.  One works well with his hands.  Another is a great auto mechanic.  One person is naturally caring and personable. Another has the gift of remaining calm when turmoil hits. A third easily sees through people's masks and helps them be their true selves.  Whatever our gifts are, we must use them for the Lord.  We must bring light to those in darkness.  We must become fishers of men, and women, and children and Teens.

Jesus said to us:
You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp-stand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
3 Ordinary Time

Bottom line: The Proclamation of the Kingdom and the Call to Repentance is not something once and for all. We have to hear it each day.

This week I returned from Peru. I thank you for your prayers - and for your support for the Mary Bloom Center.

This is a good Sunday to return because we hear Jesus' basic message: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Some of you will recognize this a the Third Luminous Mystery: The Proclamation of the Kingdom and the Call to Repentance.

The five Luminous Mysteries are: Baptism of Jesus, Wedding at Cana, Proclamation of Kingdom, Transfiguration and Institution of the Eucharist.

These mysteries sum up the Christian life which begins with baptism, then moves to discoverings one's purpose or vocation. For most this involves marriage and founding a family, for some the priesthood or religious life. Others have a calling to a single vocation.

If you and I live our vocation it involves a daily call to repentance. I've been a priest 48 years. As I've admited to you, I've had good days and bad days lazy days and crazy days. For sure I've faced times of discouragement. I've had to ask the Lord help and have heard him say, "stand up, be a man, keep keeping on."

I recognize areas of my life where the rule of Christ is not complete. Each day I pray, "thy kingdom come, they will be done."

So the Proclamation of the Kingdom and the Call to Repentance is not something once and for all. We have to hear it each day. I'd like to now recommend a way of hearing and living that call. I referred to it at the beginning of the homily: the rosary. Next to the Mass, the Eucharist, it's the best prayer we have.

The rosary involves rhythmically repeating the Scripture verse that make up the Hail Mary. This helps quiet the mind to focus on the great mysteries - those events from Jesus' life that define our existence. Like many people I pray the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday and Saturday

2020 is a good year to take up the rosary. When you go to an eye doctor you may get a prescription to see things right - to have 20/20 vision. Praying the rosary is the prescription to see things as they really are: the joys and sorrows, the trials and tests really do have a purpose.

Next week we have the opportunity to celebrate one of theJoyful Mysteries. This year February 2 - Feast of the Presentation falls on Sunday. Joseph and Mary presented Jesus in the Temple 40 days after his birth. It happens February 2 is exactly 40 days after Christmas. Don't believe me? Get out a calendar and count for yourself.

Most important, next weekend we will see how to medidate on a mystery from Jesus' early life. It will help us live his basic message: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Amen

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
3 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
3 Ordinary Time

In our Gospel reading today we hear about the call of the very first disciples right at the beginning of Jesus' ministry—first Simon Peter and Andrew then James and John.

You might think that these very first disciples were a bit simple. While they are busy working at their everyday tasks as fishermen Jesus comes up and asks them to follow him. They immediately drop their nets and do just that, they follow him.

This seems to us to be quite a rash act, something rather unwise and unconsidered. They know almost nothing about this man who wants them to become his disciples and yet they drop everything and follow him. And we know from the Gospels it literally did mean following him because Jesus soon takes off on a whole series of journeys around Palestine.

We are told that Jesus had already begun his preaching; but at this early stage he wasn't well known and they could only have been a few who heard him. We aren't actually told in the text whether these first disciples had already heard his preaching or not. Yet even if they had heard Jesus preaching, they couldn't have known very much about him or understood any of the implications of his message.

Their actions do not sound like the behaviour of prudent or responsible men. And yet in these few verses we have the very beginnings of the Church of God on earth. And these reckless and impulsive men become the models for all subsequent members of the Church. We are not told their motives or any of their thought processes, just the bare fact that they left their nets and boats and followed Jesus. There are no whys and wherefores recorded for us, just the simple actions of leaving and following.

All this would have seemed quite strange to Matthew's Jewish readers because their custom was for the disciple to search out and choose the master. But here it is clearly Jesus who takes the initiative —he calls, they follow.

One possible conclusion we might come to is how extraordinary attractive Jesus must have been; his command must have been absolutely compelling. We are told that the two sets of disciples both 'immediately' leave what they are doing and follow him. The charisma of Jesus is underlined by Matthew who indicates, in the very next sentence after our chosen text, that his fame went ahead of him throughout the province.

In the few lines of the Gospel given for today we see how Jesus picks up where John the Baptist left off. We are told that he has come to fulfil the scriptures, that he will bring light to the people; we are introduced to Jesus' inner group of disciples and see how they are called. And we are told about his ministry of healing among the crowds that flocked to hear him.

Jesus came to bring light to those who live in darkness. Those who are in the dark about what God plans for the world will be enlightened. They will, through Jesus' preaching, discover that God loves them and brings them salvation in the very fullest sense. Their eyes will be opened and they will see things now from God's point of view.

Besides appreciating the attractiveness of Jesus' personality the first disciples suddenly have the insight that this man Jesus is the one who knows the answers to all their questions, the one who can help them to achieve a completely new perspective on life. This is why they leave everything and follow him. They suddenly understand that Jesus can give them the only thing worth having —knowledge of God.

The same goes for us. It is this realisation that the only real answers to the great questions of life are to be found in Jesus that triggers our desire to follow him. Unlike the disciples we don't actually see the man, all we have are his words recorded in the Gospels. And yet still we have chosen to follow him. It must be because we have been given the insight to see that he really is the way, the truth and the life, just as he claimed to be. This is surely the action of God's grace in our lives.

We are the Apostles for the world we inhabit. It is our task to become so well acquainted with the message of Jesus that we can teach it to others. We therefore need to immerse ourselves in the Gospel, to become completely familiar with the words of Jesus and know him deeply through a lively conversation with him in prayer. It is only when we do these things that we will become effective in our task.

This sounds like a lot to live up to. It sounds perhaps more than we bargained for. It might even be something we are very reluctant to do. But be clear, this is our mission; this is our God given task. He chose us; we did not choose him. His grace has been quietly acting in our lives all along. We might think that we are not worthy or able for the task but he knows best.

Those first Apostles weren't made of very promising material and I don't suppose we are either. And even while they were with him they misunderstood his intentions and went so far as to desert and even deny him. And yet these were the ones he chose; they were the ones on whom he built his Church.

They deserted him but he did not desert them. And when Jesus ascended to the Father he bequeathed them his Holy Spirit to be with them as a guide and protector. This same Spirit has been poured out on us and he is with us in this great task we have been given to make Christ known to the world.

In taking up this task, like the first Apostles, we will find that there are things we must leave behind. And like them too, this is a journey we embark on without knowing where it will lead us. But it is a journey of faith, under the guidance of God's Holy Spirit and undertaken on behalf of Jesus Christ himself. We are his ambassadors, we are his Apostles, we are his messengers of love to the world. How can we refuse such a mission?
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