A theme that is present in today’s gospel is Jesus’ authority. We hear that Jesus, “taught with authority” (Mk 1:22) and also a comment that Jesus’ new teaching came, “with authority behind it” (Mk 1:27). So, what did Jesus do with this authority that was so evident in his ministry? Did he boss people around? Did he throw his weight around? I strongly suggest the answer is no, on both accounts.
What is evident in the gospel passage for this 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, is that Jesus uses his authority to serve. Jesus came not to be served but to serve. The gospel today is very clear on this point. Jesus used his authority to heal the man possessed by the unclean spirit. Jesus uses his authority to reach out in service. Jesus’ example is a reminder for all of us to use whatever authority we have to serve others.
Let us pray that our reputation as Christians spreads marked by our desire to serve.
We are only three weeks into Ordinary Time and already we are presented with the imagine of a boat in the gospel. So, I thought it was only fitting that I make reference to our new Ambo, which of course is in the shape of a boat. The nautical theme is very prominent throughout the gospels and today we hear that Jesus’ first disciples were fisherman. In chatting with parishioners from both Birkdale and Manly many of you have mentioned how much you enjoy getting out on the water in your own boat. We have more in common with the apostles then we might ordinarily think!
In today’s gospel, the figures of James and John and their father Zebedee are out fishing in their boat when Jesus calls to them. The evangelist Mark doesn’t tell us exactly what Jesus said to them, but what we do know is that both James and John left their father and the boat and went after Jesus. They left everything to follow Jesus; their livelihood and their family. Was it something Jesus said to them that compelled them to follow him? Was James and John already searching for the Messiah? What attracts you to Jesus?
A long time ago a village chief had three sons. Each son had a unique talent: one for raising olive trees; one for tending sheep; one for dancing. The chief had to leave the village to go on a long journey. He called his sons and instructed them to, in his absence, to use their talents to help the villagers. During his absence, the village suffered a severe winter. The people froze and starved. With immense regret, the first son cut down his olive plantation to provide the people with firewood. Likewise, the second sacrificed his sheep in order to feed the people.
When the chief returned he found the village almost empty. He called his sons and asked them to explain. The first two explained that they did all they could to help the people but it was not enough. The winter was too severe. The chief asked the third son what he had done to save the people. The lad explained that the circumstances were so dire that he thought it improper and insensitive to dance.
“Well,” said the chief, “dance for me now.” The third son went to get to his feet but his legs were stiff. He could not stand. He was no longer fit to dance. The chief said sadly, ‘Our village might have survived without warmth and food but they could not survive without hope. You did not use your talent for the people. They are gone. You are crippled.”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls his first disciples. As these disciples begin to follow him they came to recognise him as the Messiah – the one who saves the people. Later, they realised that he gave them the responsibility to bring his message of hope to the people and to use whatever talents they had to spread the Gospel.
Every follower of Jesus Christ (you and me) is given the same task. Each of us has unique talents and gifts. We are to use them in the service of our fellow men and women and the Gospel. We do so in a personal and unique way. Some are called to exercise their gifts as priests, brothers and nuns. Most of us exercise them in secular society as mothers, fathers, office workers, electricians, nurses, teachers etc. Our vocation in life is also where we exercise our mission in life.
The choice and exercise of one’s vocation in life is not a flippant, casual exercise. It is our response to Christ’s call to follow him and serve the people. It requires reflection, discernment and prayer. It includes a frank assessment of our gifts and talents so as to best use them in the service of God and the people.
What one does in life is more than a job. It is our faithful response to Jesus’ invitation to follow
him. A job well done, a vocation well lived well is a path to God and a service to God’s people.
Source: Michael Gilbert C.Ss.R. © Redemptorists 2012
If we lived in Spain, this Sunday would be the traditional day of giving presents to our family as enacted today with the three wise kings offering their gifts to Jesus, the Prince of Peace. The Epiphany is the feast that ends the Christmas season and the word means “manifestation”. The awakening to all the world that Jesus is born to be saviour of all peoples and every nation.
Jesus has given the gift of Himself to everyone. With Him comes peace and true consolation. In fact, Jesus inspires us to give of ourselves to all we live among and to be people of peace. Perhaps the greatest gift we can give of ourselves is to be patient. This is the most important aspect of love. To be patient. When we are patient with ourselves, we are more able to be patient with others. It is a sign of genuine love when a person forgets herself and gives time for others. Time is God’s gift to us, to grow in patience and thereby deepen our awareness of the other and of God.
We all need patience, to practice prayer and real listening to others. Patience in order to heal and grow. Just reflect upon the patience of a mother and father toward their little child. The patience of nature and the silent growth that accompanies such a virtue. Any good achievement requires patience, especially in our spiritual lives.
Boniface Wimmer wrote in 1856 “one should be careful not to lose patience. Though one sows in tears, he shall reap in joy. Only let the seed be sown and the plant will not fail to appear, even if it is slow to sprout and slow to ripen”.
The three king’s travelled far distances following the star that led them to Bethlehem. Our lives are the same. We search for God, we have to overcome obstacles as the kings did, yet the light, the star, the presence of Jesus is strong and gives us the courage to keep going. We will attain what we search for, true happiness, true peace, found in Jesus, who lights up our heart, our home and gently, through patience, leads us to joy.
May this New Year help us to begin again, through patience, to find true meaning in our Christian life. Following the words of Teresa of Avila is a great start....
“Let nothing trouble you, Let nothing frighten you All things are passing, God never changes
Patience obtains all things. He / She who possesses God lacks nothing God alone suffices”.
God love you and a Happy New Year