3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Jon 3:1-5,10 / Ps 22:4-5, 6-7, 8-9 / 1 Cor 7:29-31 / Mk 1:14-20

     The invitation we just heard Jesus extend to His apostles, to come after Him, is addressed to each and every one of us. While we often think that our faith is complex and difficult, a book of rules to be followed, the calling of Jesus is beautifully simple, to follow Him. It is on these two words that our lives will be judged at the end of time and on these same two words that our own happiness in this world is contingent. The call of Jesus to follow Him, is the call of love, for love requires us to know Him and to live for Him. “To follow Christ means to become one who loves as God has loved.”[1] To truly love we must accept His invitation to follow Him.

     Our God does not sit up in heaven and look out over the world and simply see a massive group of people who came into being by chance and live in a world separate from Him. No, He knows and loves each and everyone of us, in a personal and unique way. Before God formed us in the womb He knew us and before we were born He dedicated us to be a prophet to the nations.[2] In His great love for us, our God gives all of us a vocation, a unique personal calling. Jesus calls each and every one of us by name, just as He called His first apostles. You see God created each of us for a special purpose, for our vocation. Some of us He calls to the priesthood, others to religious or consecrated life, but for most of you, He calls you to follow Him in the midst of the world, in the ordinariness of your married lives. Today Jesus is calling us personally to follow Him in the ordinary circumstances of our lives, in your marriage, in our families, in our professional engagements, and in our interactions with society.

     Today’s call from our Lord is simple, we are called to live our lives with and for Jesus. Fortunately for us Jesus does not, simply point us in a direction and leave us to find our own way, no He calls us to follow after Him, so we know that He is there present with us. Since He is always with us we can talk to Him, ask Him to teach us His ways, ask for guidance and thank Him for the many blessings He has given us.

     To follow Jesus is to simply walk in His footsteps, but to walk in His footsteps requires that we know His life and have a relationship with Him. It requires that we follow the path to holiness He lays out for us in Sacred Scripture and the divinely protected teachings of the Catholic Church. To deepen our relationship with Him we need to listen closely to His words found in Scripture and receive the grace He bestows on us in the sacraments. “Following Christ is nothing other than man’s becoming man by integration into the humanity of God.”[3] We need to try to be like Him in all of our thoughts, words and actions, after all He calls each of us to be another Christ, a Christ to others. All of us are called to holiness and all of us are given the grace to be saints if only we are willing to cooperate with Him, whom we follow. This holiness is the perfection of love, perfect love of God and perfect love of neighbor.

     This striving for conversion is what Jesus is talking about in today’s Gospel when He calls us to repent and believe. Our call to conversion is the call to try to live as Jesus lived. Each and everyone of us has the unique vocation to live as Jesus lived in the midst of everyday life. All of us are called with God’s grace to try a little harder to live out the teachings of the Gospel, all of us are challenged to try just a little harder to do God’s will for us in our ordinary lives. We are called to greater love and trust, to greater sacrifice and more devotion so that we can say yes to the call of Jesus, to the call of conversion, the call to sanctity, the call to follow Him.

     The unique vocation of each and everyone of us calls us to be apostles, to bring the gospel to the people of our time. Just as God called the prophet Jonah to convert the city of Nineva and Jesus called the apostles to be fishers of men, so too He calls us to go out into our community with the message of the gospel. He calls each and everyone of us to work to turn our society back to God one person at a time.

     Friends God’s call is simple, to follow after Him. Jesus invites us to walk with Him through the ordinariness of our life and in so doing lead others to Him. While the world today, with constant news of murder in our streets, the beheading of Christians in the middle east and the many other unspeakable evils occurring throughout our world, seems to be a dark place, our Lord has given us the power to convert the world, to shine light into the darkness, if only we accept His invitation to follow Him. Christ changed the course of history in calling Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow Him, imagine how the course of history can change if each and everyone of us would dare to follow after Christ. The “Catholic Church is a sleeping giant. We literally have the power to change the world.”[4] Imagine what the world would look like if we as Catholics woke up and strived just a little harder day in and day out to follow after Christ.

[1] Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.Dogma and Preaching Applying Christian Doctrine to Daily Life. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011. pg. 129.

[2] Jer 1:5

[3] Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.Dogma and Preaching Applying Christian Doctrine to Daily Life. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011. pg. 129.

[4] Matthew Kelly, Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. Boston: Beacon Press, 2012. pg14

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