3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)
The beginning of the proclamation of the Good News
1. OPENING PRAYER
a) The text:
12 Hearing that John had been arrested he withdrew to Galilee, 13 and leaving Nazareth he went and settled in Capernaum, beside the lake, on the borders of Zebulon and Naphtali. 14 This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: 15 Land of Zebulon! Land of Naphtali! Way of the sea beyond Jordan. Galilee of the nations! 16 The people that lived in darkness have seen a great light; on those who lived in a country of shadow dark as death a light has dawned. 17 From then onwards Jesus began his proclamation with the message, 'Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.' 18 As he was walking by the Lake of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast into the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, 'Come after me and I will make you fishers of people.' 20 And at once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there he saw another pair of brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they were in their boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 And at once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him. 23 He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing all kinds of disease and illness among the people.
b) A moment of silence:
Let us allow the voice of the Word to resonate within us.
a) Questions for reflection:
- Jesus settled by the sea: the Son of God settled beside human beings. The sea, this mysterious and boundless world, as immense in its horizon as the heavens are; the one reflected in the other, bordering on each other, distinct, a mutual reflection of calm and peace. Jesus, land of God, comes to live by the sea and becomes land of humankind. Shall we go and live beside God as the Word was before he came to us? Or is our fragile life in the flesh sufficient for us?
- The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light: immersed in darkness, men and women live their days in resigned pain and without the hope of anything changing for them. The world where faith is denied is a world immersed in darkness until light comes into it. Christ, the light of nations, has come into the world and darkness has dissipated so that the light might shine. Has the darkness within us dissipated?
- They left their nets at once and followed him. At once. Left. Followed. Difficult words for our way of life. To respond to God: yes, but calmly. To leave whatever we are doing for the Lord: yes, but first we must think well. How would it be if we did as the Apostles did: at once, left everything, followed Him?
b) A key to the reading:
The God of the universe who created heaven and earth with his Word alone, leaves his dwelling place and comes to live beside the sea in a foreign land, to speak the language of earth so that heaven may be made known. The Son of man, too, the master from Nazareth, leaves the home of his youth to go to the Galilee of the peoples beyond the Jordan. The darkness of ignorance that flickers across the centuries is pierced by a great light. The shadows of death hear words that open new ways and new life: «Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near». To change itinerary, to come close to the light is not something strange for those who are familiar with the presence of the Most High. Because the eyes get used to the presence and the human heart easily forgets the past darkness when it is enjoying splendour. Repent. How? Human relationship becomes the new way along the sea-shore. There are brothers along the shore, pairs of brothers: Simon and Andrew, James and John. God does not come to break these relationships, but takes them up so as to fish in a new more shining life, in his life and his sea.
As he was walking… The way is a great secret of the spiritual life. We are not called to stand still, but for us also to go by the sea, the sea of the world where people are the fish, immersed in bitter, salty and inhuman waters. Fishers of men. One cannot fish without the net of love, without a father who guards the boat, without a boat to launch into the deep. The net of human relationships is the only possible weapon of evangelisers, because with love we can go on a great fishing expedition, and love must not only be proclaimed but brought. To be called in pairs means precisely this bringing of a visible, concrete love, the love of brothers who enjoy the same parents, the love in whose veins flows the same blood, the same life.
Follow me… to call others to walk, fish and witness. The nets break, but every fisherman is capable of repairing a broken net. Love is not a knick-knack that is broken with use! The art of accommodation makes precious every possible relationship among people. What matters is going, trusting in that new name, always and still called LIFE.
Those called, go and follow Jesus. But where does Jesus go? He walks all over Galilee, teaches in the synagogues, preaches the good news of the kingdom, heals all kinds of diseases and infirmities of the people. Every sea person, apostle of the Kingdom, will act like Jesus: will walk the ways of the world and stop in the market places of people, will tell the good news of God and will take care of the sick and infirm, will make visible the concern of the Father for each one of his sons and daughters.
4. PRAYER (Is 43,1-21)
Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you;
Since I regard you as precious,
Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
Thus says Yahweh, who made a way through the sea,
The waters of the sea that cover the earth, tell me of the flow of your life, Lord. When sky and sea blend at the horizon, it seems as if I am seeing all that you are being reloaded into our being. A flow that is a soft wave of presence and an unspeakable story of love, made up of names, events, ages, secrets, placid emotions and unforeseen troubles, a story made up of lights and grey times, of enthusiasms and calm drowsiness. This sea that is humanity invaded by your peace, contains words without end, the words of your Word who wanted profoundly to take on the vest of the sand of time. How many words on the shores and ocean beds that are silently gathered, if only I am disposed to listen, your words that the waves of life bring to shore and that are roads for navigators, ancient and new words, words never forgotten and words wrapped in mystery. Lord, may the waves of humanity not sweep me away, but may they become trails of communion for the fragile boat of my journey. May I learn from you to launch into the deep to fish in the dark nights of the human story, when the fish are more prone to allow themselves to be caught. At your word, my God, I will cast the nets, and when I bring the boats to shore, I will go on following the footsteps you have left on the shore of history, when you chose to clothe yourself with our muddy clothes.
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