1) Opening prayer
Father of love, hear our prayers.
Help us to know your will
and to do it with courage and faith.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Mark 1,14-20
After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the gospel from God saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel.'
As he was walking along by the Lake of Galilee he saw Simon and Simon's brother Andrew casting a net in the lake -- for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, 'Come after me and I will make you into fishers of people.' And at once they left their nets and followed him.
Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending the nets. At once he called them and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.
• After John had been arrested, Jesus went to Galilee. There he proclaimed the Gospel of God. John was arrested by King Herod for having denounced the immoral behaviour of the King (Lk 3, 18-20). The imprisonment of John the Baptist did not frighten Jesus! On the contrary, all the opposite! In that he saw a symbol of the coming of the Kingdom. And today, would it be that we know how to read the facts of politics and of urban violence to announce or proclaim the Good News of God?
• Jesus proclaimed the Good News of God. The Good News is of God not only because it comes from God, but also and, above all, because God is its content. God, himself, is the greatest Good News for human life. He responds to the deepest aspiration of our heart. In Jesus we see what happens when a human person allows God to enter and to reign. This Good News of the Kingdom of God proclaimed by Jesus has four different aspects:
a) The time is fulfilled, has arrived. For the other Jews the time was not as yet fulfilled, had not arrived. There was still much missing for the coming of the Kingdom. For the Pharisees, for example, the Kingdom could be attained only when the observance of the Law would be perfect. Jesus had another way of reading the facts. He says that the time is fulfilled, it has arrived.
b) The Kingdom of God is close at hand! For the Pharisees the coming of the Kingdom depended on their efforts. It would have arrived only after they had observed the Law. Jesus says the contrary: “The Kingdom is close at hand”. It is already here! Independently of the efforts made! When Jesus says: “The Kingdom is close at hand”, he does not mean to say that the Kingdom has been reached only at that moment, but rather that it was already there. What everybody was expecting was already present in their life, and they did not know it, they did not perceive it (cf. Lk 17, 21). Jesus perceived it! Because he saw and read reality with a different look And it is in this hidden presence of the Kingdom in the midst of the people that Jesus reveals himself to the poor of his land. And this is the seed of the Kingdom which will receive the rain of his Word and the warmth of his love.
c) Convert yourselves! The exact meaning is change the way of thinking and of living. In order to be able to perceive the presence of the Kingdom in life, the person should begin to think and to live in a diverse way. The person should change way of life and find another way of living together with others! He/she should leave aside all legalism of the teaching of the Pharisees and allow the new experience of God to invade his/her life and give him/her a new way of looking so as to read and understand the facts in a new way.
d) To believe in the Good News! It was not easy to accept this message. It is not easy for us to begin to think in a different way from all that we have learnt, since we were small children. This is possible only through an act of faith. When someone give a diverse news, it is difficult to accept it, and it is accepted only if we trust the person who gives the news. And thus, you will say to others: “You can accept! I know this person! This person does not deceive! You can trust him/her! We can trust Jesus!
• The first objective of the proclamation of the Good News is that of forming a community. Jesus goes by, he sees and he calls. The first four who were called, Simon, Andrew, John and James, listen, abandon everything and follow Jesus in order to form a community with him. It seems to be love at first sight! According to Mark’s account, everything takes place in the first encounter with Jesus. Comparing with the other Gospels, people perceive that the four already knew Jesus (Jn 1, 39; Lk 5, 1-11). They had already had the opportunity to live with him, to see him help the people and to listen to him in the Synagogue. They knew how he lived and what he thought. The call was not something of one moment, but a question of repeated calls and invitations, of progressing and of retreating. The call begins and begins again always anew! In practice, it coincided with the living together with Jesus for two or three years, since the time of the Baptism until the moment when Jesus went to Heaven (Acts 1, 21-22). And then, why does Mark present this as something sudden, an act of love at first sight? Mark thinks in the ideal: the encounter with Jesus should bring about a radical change in our life!
4) Personal questions
• A political fact, the imprisonment of John, led Jesus to begin the proclamation of the Good News of God. Today, do the facts of politics and of the police, exercise any influence in the proclamation of the Good News that we present to people?
• “Convert yourselves! Believe in the Good News!” How is this taking place in my own life?
5) Concluding prayer
For you are Yahweh,
Most High over all the earth,
far transcending all gods. (Ps 97,9)