Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
January 12, 2015
Heb 1:1-6, Ps 97, Mk 1:14-20
To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below:
The following points were attempted in the homily:
- Today as we begin Ordinary Time in the Church, the readings the Church gives us help us to find the coordinates we need to live the time God has given us well. The ordinary or common time of Christians involves living with the borderline unbelievable reality we’ve been pondering throughout the Christmas Season: that God has entered our world, dwells among us, and wants to dwell within us until the end of time. Today’s first reading was also heard on Christmas morning. It reminds us that even though God has spoken to us in the past through nature, through reason, and through the prophets, in the fulfillment of time he has spoken to us in his Son, his Incarnate Word, and it describes just who this Son is: the Son who was with him from the beginning, the Son through whom he created the universe, the Son who is the refulgence (the brilliant reflection) of his glory, The Son who is the imprint of his being, the Son who sustains everything by his providential word, the Son whom he has made heir of all things, the Son who is now seated at his right hand far above all the angels. That is the Son whom God has sent to synthesize and fulfill in a living Word all that God had communicate before. There’s a passage from St. John of the Cross printed in the Catechism that synthesizes the wonder of this reality to which the beginning of the Letter to the Hebrews eloquently attests: “In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word – and he has no more to say. . . because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son.”
- In the Gospel, we see what that Word, that Son, said as he began his public ministry. He started by describing that the long wait is over, that we had entered the time of the fulfillment of all man’s hopes and all the Messianic predictions of the prophets because “the kingdom of God is at hand” with the coming of the King, with the coming of God-in-the-flesh. Then this Word who summarizes in his himself all God wants to say gives us three verbs, three commands, three things we need to do: repent, believe, and come to follow him. Today we consider the majesty of the Word saying these words and begin ordinary time by seeking to take each of them more seriously than we have until now.
- The first word is “repent.” In Greek, this word is metanoete, which means a total revolution of our mind, of the way we look at things. It’s a call to conversion, to no longer think as everyone else thinks, to no longer do as everyone else does, but to put on the mind of God, to align our heart and our actions to him. It means to compare ourselves to the brilliant reflection of God found in the refulgent Jesus and recognize we’re not yet living enough as the image and likeness of God, we’re not yet “turning with” Jesus (con-verting) in all aspects and we need to change. For some people this means a 180 degree turn. For others it might mean to 50 degree turn or a 10 degree turn. But all of us need this conversion and we will always need it. We need to repent of our past failures to stay with the Lord who came into the world to be God-with-us and to come to be fully with him. Ordinary Time is a time in which we regularly repent, in which we continuously convert, in which we incessantly seek to change to become more and more like the Lord who calls us to that penance and renewal. We have to overcome the spiritual stubbornness that makes us hardened soil to the Lord. The Lord who calls us to this metanoia will give us all the help he knows we need to achieve it, but we have to correspond.
- The second word is “believe.” To believe means not just to accept something as true, whether reluctantly or enthusiastically. To believe means totally to submit oneself to a reality on the basis of a trust in the one testifying to the reality. To believe means to entrust ourselves totally to Jesus and on the basis of that trust to ground our lives on what he says. The ordinary time of a Christian is meant to be filled with this type of faith. Because of our trust in Jesus we believe in what he tells us about the path of happiness in the Beatitudes and we seek to align our whole lives to what he says. Because of our trust in Jesus we believe in what he reveals to us about God the Father and we ground our existence on that Father’s love and call. Because of our trust in Jesus we believe in what he says about his presence in the Eucharist, about his sending out the apostles and their successors for the forgiveness of sins in confession, about what he says about caring for others as if we were caring for him, about what he says about praying for our persecutors and even loving our enemies. For the new year that has begun to be truly a year of the Lord it’s to be a year of faith. The Year for Consecrated life we’re marking is an opportunity for us to reflect on the faith of those in consecrated life, especially the saintly founders of so many religious institutes who gave their whole life to God in faith and because of that bore so much fruit.
- The third word is “follow me” or “Come after me.” Jesus says those words to Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John in the Gospel and they immediately left their nets, their boats, their fish, their employees and their families to follow him. They were open to the type of revolution in the way they looked at their life that is contained in Jesus’ word metanoete. They believed in Jesus already enough to leave everything behind on a dime to base their entire life on his word calling them to follow him and become fishers of men. Likewise for us it’s not enough to repent and to believe, because the Lord Jesus always calls us to follow him in faith, turning back on other things. Ordinary Time is a time of this type of discipleship, in which we focus on following the Lord Jesus.
- And this repentance, this faith, and this following is something that is meant to be not one time things or episodic, extraordinary events but ordinary. Jesus, the Word in whom God the Father said everything he’s going to say, speaks to us each day in prayer, calling us to change, challenging us to trust in him, and to come after him as he sends us out to catch others for him. I’d like to ponder one way in which we daily Mass-goers need to ponder God speaking to us in Jesus and giving us this triple imperative: it’s at Mass. We need to come to Mass ready to repent, ready to have our lives changed forever by what Jesus is going to say to us in the Word of God. When we say, “Thanks be to God!,” or “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!,” or “Amen!,” we’re publicly proclaiming, even shouting, that we believe what has been heard and want to base our lives on it. And in that Word, the Lord Jesus is always calling us to follow him and then sending us to help others learn to repent, believe and follow him, too. Over the course of Ordinary Time, it’s key for us each day at Mass to learn how to listen to the Lord Jesus speaking to us in this way summoning us to become more and more like him through conversion, faith, discipleship and apostolate.
- As we prepare now to receive the Word made flesh, we ponder how Jesus wants us to imitate him in giving his words our own flesh so that we might be living, breathing commentaries of what it means to repent, to believe, to follow and to fish. And to help us become that living, breathing exegete, Jesus — the Son of God who was with him from the beginning, the Son through whom he created the universe, the Son who is the refulgence of his glory, the Son who is the imprint of his being, the Son who sustains everything by his providential word, the Son whom he has made heir of all things, the Son who is now seated at his right hand far above all the angels, the Son who synthesizes and fulfills all that God the Father wants to say — gives us now his very self.
The readings for today’s Mass were:
Reading 1 Heb 1:1-6
In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways
to our ancestors through the prophets;
in these last days, he spoke to us through the Son,
whom he made heir of all things
and through whom he created the universe,who is the refulgence of his glory,
the very imprint of his being,
and who sustains all things by his mighty word.
When he had accomplished purification from sins,
he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
as far superior to the angels
as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.For to which of the angels did God ever say:You are my Son; this day I have begotten you?
I will be a father to him, and he shall be a Son to me?
And again, when he leads the first born into the world, he says:
Let all the angels of God worship him.
Responsorial Psalm PS 97:1 and 2b, 6 and 7c, 9
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many isles be glad.
Justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
R. Let all his angels worship him.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
Let all his angels worship him.
R. Let all his angels worship him.
Because you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth,
exalted far above all gods.
R. Let all his angels worship him.
Alleluia Mk 1:15
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Kingdom of God is at hand:
repent and believe in the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 1:14-20
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.