Homily for the Third Sunday of the Year (A) (22nd January, 2017) on the Gospel
Ps 26:1.4.13-14 (R. v.1)
1Cor 1: 10 –13.17;
Matt 4:12-23 or 4:12-17.
In a seminary where bell signals the beginning and ending of almost every activity there is a seminarian well-known for his humorous behaviours. He is among those who always put on the best cassocks. Whenever the bell rings, he normally dresses quickly and goes to a popular junction in the seminary. He will be there waiting for someone to ask what the bell signals and will subsequently follow the person to the venue. Whenever he is asked why he does not care to know what is in the timetable so as to prepare himself he will say that the important thing is to be present where others are whether prepared or not.
Topic: Called for a purpose.
Jesus began His public ministry in today’s gospel by calling all to repentance – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near”. In Luke’s gospel, He reiterated his mission on earth: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Lk 5:32). The essence of Christ’s incarnation is to bring us back to God so that we might have life in abundance, cf. Jn 10:10.
Calling His first disciples in today’s gospel, He said to Peter and his brother Andrew “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people”. They were not called just to follow Him but were transformed from fishing for fish to fishing for people. They were called to assist Jesus reach the ends of the earth because God’s call for repentance is for everybody. In the prophet Isaiah we read “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other” (Is 45:22). While sending His apostles in the Acts of the Apostles He said to them: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). This is because we all are from God, cf. 1Cor 11:12; Ps 79:13. Hence the prophet Isaiah asks us: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth…” (Is 40:28).
When one hears the word of God and accepts it, the word goes into the person and becomes part of him or her, cf. Rev. 3:20. Accepting Jesus involves accepting to be his agents, helping others to hear the word. We read in the Second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2Cor 5:18). Although this call is for all but more is expected from those at the leadership positions. In the prophet Isaiah we read: “The Lord enters into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: ‘It is you who have devoured the vineyard, the spoil of the poor is in your houses’” (Is 3:14). Prophet Jeremiah reads: “Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard, they have trampled down my portion, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness” (Jer 12:10).
Every Christian is called to do the will of He who called him or her as it is written “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (Jn 6:38). We are called to be examples to others, cf. 1Thess 1:6-10; 1Tim 1:16; 4:12. Through us, the intention of God in Psalm will be fulfilled: “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him” (Ps 22:27). Because he will send out his angels to gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven, cf. Mk 13:27.
Just as the seminarian we saw in our introductory story, many Christians do not know why they are Christians. They go to Mass or service either because others are going or are asked to go; they pray because they see others pray or are asked to pray, and so on. There is need to be truly Christians and fish for others because the gospel must reach others through us. Remember, those who do not gather with Christ scatter and are against him cf. Matt 12:30.
Bible Readings: Is 5:1-7; Matt 12: 33-37; 20:1-16; Lk 9:57-62; 10:1-12.
Thought for today: Do you bring people to Christ or scatter those already gathered?
Let us Pray: Lord and Master of the vineyard, may we be truly Christians and fish men and women for you – Amen!
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