Third Sunday in Ordinary Time


Third Sunday In Ordinary Time

Deacon Blaine Barclay

‘’ Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near….Come follow me”.

After the arrest of his cousin John the Baptist, Jesus withdraws to Galilee, to the periphery, the margins of Herod’s empire.  He does not move back to his home town of Nazareth, but chooses the seaport, fishing village of Capernaum as his base of operations for his mission of evangelization.  Why did he choose Capernaum?  The Sea of Galilee was like a highway, it gave him quick access to lots of synagogues where he could proclaim the good news of the kingdom, it also gave him ready access to the wilderness, and the prayerful solitude, that he would need in order to recharge his batteries, so to speak. Capernaum is also a fishing village and Jesus is now casting his net, ’’fishing for people’’, who will in turn cast the net of the good news of the kingdom, fishing for the other, spreading the joy of the gospel.

‘’Come follow me’’, he says to these first disciples, he calls them, as he does to each one of us.  We know from John’s gospel that he had already met Peter and Andrew.  And Andrew at least had been a disciple of John the Baptist.  He was the one who asked Jesus where he lived, and Jesus said to him, ’’Come and see’’.  Andrew was one of the first evangelists because he went right away to tell his brother Peter that he had met Jesus. He says, “We have found the Messiah, (which means Christ)”. But that’s John’s gospel, it does however set the stage for the drama that unfolds later in Capernaum.  This is another reason he set up shop in Capernaum rather than Nazareth. He had friends who lived there, a ready core of future missionary disciples. It also explains why these first disciples were so quick to answer the call to cast a different net, a net for souls, ’’fishing for people’’.  They had already came to Jesus, they had already seen who he was, ‘Him of whom Moses in the law and also the Prophets spoke”.  They had already crossed the bridge of decision, to leave their old nets, in need of repair, their old life, their livelihood, to risk everything in this new adventure with Jesus.  To “Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’’ To ’’proclaim the good news of the kingdom’’.  We too, each one of us, are invited into this same adventure of missionary discipleship, and our gospel today gives us a kind of road map on how to do this, three keys that will unlock this missional door for us.  Three key terms.

The first term is “good news”, glad tidings, in Greek, ‘evangellion’, literally ‘good message’.  Like a blind person receiving their sight, a lame person walking, a prisoner getting amnesty, winning the cosmic lottery, the best of all good news, Jesus coming into my life.  Do I really experience the gospel as the good news that is?  And if not, why not? How can I be a ‘sourpuss’ if the gospel is ‘good news’? How can I lay hold of the joy of the gospel?

The second term is ‘kingdom’, or, reign of God, in Greek, ‘Basileia’. That state of affairs were God’s will is sovereign.  As we pray in the ‘Our Father. ’Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ The kingdom is not yet, it is still something ahead of us, coming to us from the future.  Our gospel today speaks of the good news of the kingdom being near, at hand, upon us.  Indeed, it has already arrived in embryonic form in the person and mission of Jesus. Am I ready, with the help of God’s grace to commit myself to the task of the kingdom?  As one author puts it, ’’There must be a decision, it is necessary to be converted, to embrace the demands of the kingdom in order to be a disciple of Jesus.’’

The third term is ‘repent, in Greek, ‘metanoia’, literally to change one’s understanding, not simply sorrow or remorse but a change in the direction of one’s life, as in, ’turn around you’re going in the wrong direction.’ The book of Job, chapter 28 says, ’’the fear of the Lord that is wisdom, to depart from evil, that is understanding.’’ To repent is a commitment to conversion of life and lifestyle. The kingdom is near, the reign of God is breaking into our lives in the person and mission of Jesus, and this is such good news that we need to open our hearts and lives, and turn our lives around by joining the Jesus revolution of fidelity and tenderness.

‘’Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near…. Come follow me”.