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From Word to Eucharist

Word to Eucharist: Do we process again as we always have?  Or are we open to change, to the growth in the Spirit that Christ urges on us?

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INTRODUCTIONFIRST READINGPSALMSECOND READINGGOSPELCATENA AUREADISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Sunday Introduction

3B Ordinary Time

INTRO TO READINGS

The Kingdom of God is still at hand

by Sr. Mary M. McGlone — 2018

A little more than a year ago, Thomas Friedman published the book Thank You For Being Late. The book deals with the unprecedented pace of change our whole world is experiencing. Friedman says that humanity has known nothing like this since the days when Johannes Gutenberg invented his press which put the Bible, and much more, in the hands of the public. Today’s change is happening because “the three largest forces on the planet — technology, globalization and climate change — are all accelerating at once.” Friedman quotes a friend who said, “When you press the pause button on a machine, it stops. But when you press the pause button on human beings, they start.” The point is that in times of change like this, we need to take time to catch our breath, to understand what is happening in and around us so that we can be a purposeful part of it, not just riders on a bullet train headed to an unknown destination.

Friedman’s ideas offer a contemporary complement to today’s readings. In the first reading, we get the cartoon-like story of Jonah warning the people of the once-largest city in the world that they have 40 days to repent or be destroyed. Then, we hear Paul tell the Corinthians to live as if time were running out. Finally, Mark tells us that Jesus began his preaching saying, “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand.” Today’s Scriptures call us to take a good look at our times so we can make a Gospel-inspired response.

Jesus began his preaching after John the Baptist’s arrest. Although it was obviously a time of danger, he interpreted it, as what was known in his day, as a time of kairos, the opportune time, a moment when God’s activity on earth was reaching a peak. Jesus summarized it all by saying, “The kingdom of God is at hand.”

The concept of kingdom of God is elusive. Jesus talked about it in parables and analogies that described its great, contagious energy. Rather than being a place like a country or even a grouping like a church, we can describe it as a new state of mind that engenders a new way of living. It grows through a web of relationships in which people experience loving union with one another and with God. Jesus came enthusiastically inviting people into that new way of life. He showed them what it looked like through his interactions with others. He taught his disciples to pray for its coming, and he himself prayed for it during the last supper saying, “May all be one, Father, as you are in me” (John 17:10). He knew that once people experienced it, they could never settle for less.

In order to be a part of that kingdom, Jesus called for repentance and belief. For Jesus, repentance referred to a thoroughgoing change of mentality and a commitment to the vision he was preaching. Unlike the king of Nineveh who demanded that the people fast and put on sackcloth and ashes, Jesus invited people to care for one another and feast together — on an ongoing basis.

The kingdom of God is just as near today as on that day when Jesus came to Galilee preaching about it. We are still called to repent and believe. The Second Vatican Council teaches us that in furthering Christ’s mission we all share in “the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel” (Gaudium et Spes #3-4). That means that we take Jesus’ preaching and apply it to the world Friedman is talking about.

To read the signs of our times, we have to pause and contemplate our epoch. In “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” Pope Francis calls us to “review those questions which are troubling us today and which we can no longer sweep under the carpet.” He says that by doing this we “dare to turn what is happening in the world into our own personal suffering and thus discover what each of us can do about it” (#18-19).

Peter, Andrew, James and John were called to leave their boats for the sake of the kingdom. If we wish to understand and implement Jesus’ vision today, we must pause from our frenetic activity to contemplate our own reality, to cultivate what Francis calls “serene attentiveness” and gratitude to God. Only then will we be able to perceive how, as Francis says, the universe is unfolding in God.
This is our kairos, the only moment of history we have, and it is in our hands. Friedman says that our societies, our workplaces and geopolitics need to be reimagined. We have the formula, it’s called the kingdom of God. We’re called to be a purposeful part of it.

©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

First Reading

3B Ordinary Time

commentary
Jonah (detail), suggested by Greg Warnuz, from the Menologion of Basil II, an illuminated manuscript designed as a church calendar or Eastern Orthodox Church service book that was compiled c. 1000 AD, for the Byzantine Emperor Basil II. It currently resides in the Vatican Library. Jonah is popularly known primarily for his sojourn in the belly of the whale. But we should remember him for vastly underestimating the power of the Word of God to bring about change in peoples' hearts. Caveat lector.  

The word of the LORD came to Jonah — Jonah 3:1

Key Points

They believed in God and proclaimed a fast

Jon 3:1-5, 10

  • The story told in the Book of Jonah illustrates the power of God’s mercy and the possibility of conversion for all people.
  • Jonah had trouble believing that God wanted him to preach to the people of Nineveh because they were Gentiles.
  • After Jonah is rescued from the belly of a great fish, he preaches God’s message of repentance to the people of Nineveh and they respond fully.
SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor

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Reflections

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau

God wants even pagans to come to Him

FIRST READING — The prophet Jonah is better known for his sojourn in the belly of the fish than for his prophecy concerning God’s mercy to all nations through the mission given to Israel. The book is about God’s compassion to all people, even those who were not “chosen.” God’s compassion and mercy are clearly to be extended to all peoples through the ministry of the nation of Israel. Christians have come to see Jesus Christ in the collectivity of the people of God sent to all nations to call them to salvation. Jonah himself represents the Jewish people who, after the Exile, had come to a rather rigid attitude of defensiveness and exclusiveness with respect to other nations. They saw all outsiders as enemies and as threats to their religious purity. Surely, God could not love and forgive all those pagans! Jonah is angry that the Ninevites repent and are forgiven. The lesson is that even God’s Chosen People need to change, to repent also.

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Fr. Eamon Tobin

God calls us to repentance

FIRST READING — The purpose of the book of Jonah, written after the Israelites have returned from exile, is to teach the people that God loves all people, even Israel’s greatest enemies.

A reluctant Jonah travels to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, which devastated the Kingdom of Judah and Israel, destroying the latter completely in 722 B.C. To Jonah’s great surprise, the Ninevites—from the King down to the lowest person—respond immediately to Jonah’s call to repentance. Such reaction from an evil people to Jonah’s preaching is an example of the transformative power of the Word of God.

The final verse of today’s reading which says, “God repented of the evil he had threatened to carry out,” is an example of anthropomorphic language. The author speaks of God as if he were a human being.

For this Sunday’s Mass, the Jonah reading is used to teach the kind of repentance that Jesus is calling people to as he begins his public ministry.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone

God calls for conversion while there is still time to change our ways

FIRST READING — There are lots of ways to tell the story of Jonah. Today’s liturgy gives us our prim maiden aunt’s version with the pithy preaching of the prophet and the people’s pious turn-around. Our delightfully outrageous young uncle would never tell the tale without the details of Jonah’s flight from God into the belly of a whale or his self-absorbed annoyance at the fact that Nineveh actually repented and God reneged on the evil planned for them. Some describe the Book of Jonah as the comic strip of the Bible. But that doesn’t disparage its message, it simply says that the teaching comes in a different, perhaps more entertaining package.

Of course, the end result is transformation. Jonah’s full story includes his adventures in the belly of the whale and crossing Nineveh, the people’s conversion and his devastation that God did not decimate the people and yet destroyed his shade tree. (Such a man of God, more concerned for a plant than for the population of the city!) The author doesn’t want us to miss the references to three days: Jonah spent three days in the belly of the whale and three days crossing the city. Neither place was to his liking, but both resulted in unexpected salvation.

An ironic dimension of the story is that the power of the message far outshines the messenger. Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh at all, but when he was backed into a corner, he went and carried his chip on his shoulder all the way through the great city as he preached. As if to spite him, the people took his message to heart. St. Thomas Aquinas created an axiom to explain this detail: “Whatever is received is received according to the mode of the receiver.” Applied to this story, that explains that the people of Nineveh were more disposed to grace than was Jonah. His preaching saved them, even if it didn’t affect him. The underlying message is that God calls for conversion while there is still time to change our ways.

©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2018 Reflections, 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Proclamation Tips for Lectors

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Lisa Bellecci-St.romain

SOURCE: lisamsw
Paul J. Schlachter

Points to consider

  • I read about two calls and two responses.  First, God commands Jonah: Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you.  I know that it is really the second time God has said it, and I will say it as if to remind the man to get going.
  • Sure enough he does: Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh.  Again I can suggest that he undertakes the trip against his will: according to the Lord’s bidding.
  • Later I hear Jonah’s announcement to the people of Nineveh: Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed.  On the one hand no children of Israel felt any pity on this empire that had long tormented their nation.  But then none would have dared to travel there to shout such a judgment in the midst of its people.  That is why I search for the right combination of temerity and brashness.
  • And Jonah, indeed all Israel, was shocked to hear the response.  He had gone just a single day’s walk when the people of Nineveh believed God.  I cannot say these words in matter-of-fact tone.  The God of Israel speaks to Israel’s worst enemy and they repent, turning from their evil way.  That phrase is truly the memorable point in the entire book of Jonah, because like in the book of Job our expectations are shattered and our understanding of God becomes more mature.
  • The seat of the evil empire is an enormously large city; it took three days to go through it.  Let me think of today’s urban centers and how long it would take to walk through them.  This is one point of contrast with the Gospel for today, in which Jesus visits small fishing villages to call his disciples.
  • Finally, I want to capture in my voice some of the surprise and even disappointment that Jonah would feel about the evil empire’s change of heart.  The remainder of the book deals with it.

Key elements

  • Climax of the story: The moment when the people believed God.  It is the response to Jonah’s message and leads to a new favorable judgment from God.
  • Message for our assembly: All three readings for today are set in God’s time, when we should feel a kind of urgency about our calling.  Now is not the time to think it over or put off a decision as we often do in our lives.
  • I will challenge myself: To show above all an admiration at the power of God’s word to change the lives of persons who like ourselves people the secular cities.
SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at LectorWorks.org
Greg Warnusz

Introducing the reading at Mass

Sometimes God’s first chosen people thought they were the only people God could ever favor. This is a story about pagan people who turn to God, and how God used a reluctant servant to bring that about.

Oral interpretation

The liturgical setting

Over the Sundays of ordinary time this year, we’ll read consecutive passages from the Gospel of Mark. In today’s passage, Jesus calls several disciples, who follow him immediately. The first reading tells the story of Jonah’s similar effect in Nineveh. As a conscientious liturgical minister, you’ll want to know the larger picture, larger than your readings, that is, so read the day’s gospel.

The literary background

Jonah’s apparently easy success in chapter 3 is quite ironic because of what has gone before. Of course the first thing we think of when we hear his name is that whale. How did Jonah come to spend three days and three nights in the belly of that beast? Well, chapter 1 of Jonah starts with the Lord calling the man to go to Nineveh and prophesy. Jonah, perhaps out of fear or disbelief that the Ninevites could respond to his preaching, runs the other way and sails on a ship. A terrible storm threatens the ship, and the others aboard surmise that God is coming after Jonah, so they throw him overboard. That’s when the whale gets him, at the beginning of chapter 2. Jonah prays, the whale spits him up, and, in chapter 3, God directs Jonah a second time to go to Nineveh and preach repentance. In the fourth chapter, Jonah expresses bitter disappointment that Nineveh repented and God did not destroy the city! God rebukes Jonah for his smallness of vision, and the story ends.

The historical setting

The book of Jonah was actually written after the Jews’ exile. Some of them were quite nationalistic, and filled with a smug sense of superiority over other nations. Like Jonah, they wished God would destroy the nations perceived as enemies. The story of Jonah is meant to rebuke their smallness of vision, and teach them that God has care for other peoples as well as for them.

Proclaiming it

Even if your listeners won’t know all that background, you can bring out the truth that God can evoke repentance even from unlikely people. In the middle sentences, use your tone of voice to express this astonishing truth. Stress how large is the city (“It took three days to go through it.”), that Jonah “had gone but a single day’s walk,” that Jonah’s message was vengeance: “Nineveh shall be destroyed!” and that all of the Ninevites repented, “all of them, great and small.”

Then pause before the final sentence that tells God’s merciful response. Deliver that soberly and gratefully.

SOURCE: Greg Warnusz at LectorPrep.org

Focal Themes

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Theology of Work Commentary

How our own work in God’s service is like Jonah

FIRST READING—Although Jonah initially refuses to participate in God’s blessing for his adversaries, in the end his faithfulness to God overcomes his disobedience. Eventually he does warn Nineveh, and to his dismay they respond passionately to his message. The entire city, “everyone great and small” (Jon. 3:5b), from the king and his nobles to the people in the streets to the animals in their flocks, “turn from their evil ways and the violence that is in their hands” (Jon. 3:8). “The people of Nineveh believed God” (Jon. 3:5a) and “when God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it” (Jon. 3:10). This is dismaying to Jonah because he continues to want to dictate the results of the work God called him to. He wants punishment, not forgiveness, for Ninevah. He judges the results of his own work harshly (Jon. 4:5) and misses out on the joy of others. Do we do the same? When we lament the seeming lack of significance and success in our work, are we forgetting that only God can see the true value of our work?

Yet even Jonah’s small, halting moments of obedience to God lead to blessings for those around him. On the ship, he acknowledges, “I worship the Lord, the God of heaven” (Jon. 1:9) and sacrifices himself for the sake of his shipmates. As a result they are saved from the storm, and moreover, they become followers of the Lord. “The men feared the Lord even more, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows” (Jon. 1:16).

If we recognize that our own work in God’s service is hobbled by disobedience, resentment, laxity, fear, selfishness or other ailments, Jonah’s experience may be an encouragement to us. Here we have a prophet who may be even more of a failure at faithful service than we are. Yet God accomplishes the fullness of his mission through Jonah’s halting, flawed, intermittent service. By God’s power, our poor service may accomplish everything that God intends.

SOURCE: © 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)

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Life Recovery Bible

Sharing God’s transforming message with others

Jonah 3:4-9 God’s message penetrated to all levels of Ninevite society. The people immediately admitted their sins before God and dressed in sackcloth to show their sorrow. The king then took responsibility for his people and called both great and small to humble themselves before God and turn from their evil ways. When we obey God and share his transforming message with others, it brings not only deliverance for us but recovery for others as well.

God uses different methods to deliver people

Jonah 3:10 God does not always use the same methods to deliver people. He saved the sailors by having Jonah willingly thrown from the boat. Here he delivered the Ninevites when Jonah unwillingly brought God’s message to them and they repented. God is able to forgive and deliver even the worst of sinners. When people truly repent of their wickedness, God delivers them from judgment. God is merciful toward those who confess their sins and allow him to change them.

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Bible Study

The Repentance of Nineveh and God’s Pardon

Exegesis Outline

Sunday’s First Reading

Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.
Introduction

The First Reading and the Gospel Reading present individual responses to God’s call to service. In the First Reading, the prophet Jonah was reluctant to accept the mission to call the fierce Assyrian Gentiles of Nineveh to repentance. However, after struggling against his divine call, Jonah finds success when he submits to God’s divine plan. The people of Nineveh responded to Jonah’s warning to repent, and their repentance saves them from the destruction of divine judgment.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Major Points to Consider
by Michal E. Hunt (Agape Bible Study)

JONAH AT FIRST  RESISTS GOD’S COMMAND

Jonah resisted God’s command to go to Nineveh and preach repentance to Israel’s great enemy, the Gentile people of the Assyrian capital.  The Assyrians were fierce enemies of Israel and the regional superpower.  God told him the people of Nineveh would experience His judgment of destruction if they failed to repent within forty days of hearing Jonah’s message.  Instead, Jonah took passage on a sailing vessel in an attempt to run away from God, but humans are incapable of avoiding the God of the universe.  God caused a great fish to swallow Jonah, who then descended into the abode of the dead (Sheol), causing the reluctant prophet to repent and submit to his mission.  Accepting Jonah’s repentance, God caused the beast to spit out the resurrected Jonah.


JONAH CHANGES HIS MIND

In verses 1-2, God repeats His command for Jonah to go to the Assyrians’ capital city.  Jonah went and preached to the people his message to repent or face God’s divine judgment in forty days.  The people of Nineveh, from peasant to king, repented their sins.  They demonstrated their sincere repentance through their actions by fasting and wearing sackcloth (a sign of repentance or grief).  God, in His mercy, accepted their repentance and withdrew His judgment.


THREE DAYS TO CROSS NINEVEH

When the inspired writer recorded that “it took three days to cross” the city (verse 3), he may have been using hyperbole to expresses the city’s great size, or Jonah took his time preaching to various sections of the city.  However, the number three in Scripture is often a symbolic number to introduce a work of God, especially in His divine plan for humanity’s salvation (i.e., three days in the great fish before Jonah’s release and three days for Jesus in the grave before His resurrection).


THE NINEVITES REPENTANCE

Jesus recalls the Ninevites’ exemplary conversion in response to the message of God’s prophet in the Gospels (Mt 12:41, Lk 11:32).  He contrasts the Ninevites’ response with the disbelief of many of the Jews to His Gospel message.  The Gentile Ninevites’ repentance foreshadows the future repentance of the Gentile nations and their acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior in the Age of the Messiah and His Kingdom of the Church.


CONNECTION TO JESUS

The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), but God in His mercy sent His Son as the unblemished Lamb of sacrifice to atone for the sins of the world (Jn 1:29).  Jesus’ sacrifice is the only means open to humanity for receiving God’s mercy and forgiveness for our sins when we repent and turn to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  Using the people of Nineveh as an example, Jesus said: “On Judgment Day the men of Nineveh will appear against this generation and be its condemnation because when Jonah preached, they repented; and, look, there is something greater than Jonah here” (Lk 11:32).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Responsorial Psalm

3B Ordinary Time

commentary

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me; teach me your paths, Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior. — Psalm 25:4-5

Teach me your ways, O Lord

Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9

This psalm stresses the rightness of God’s way, which, if followed, leads us to life.

Knowing by heart

In its entirety, this psalm is an acrostic, meaning that the lines or verses each begin with consecutive letters of a word or phrase. In this case, it is the Hebrew alphabet. That form makes it easier to memorize the prayer or, as we say, to learn it by heart.

Knowing by heart is what this psalm is all about. We pray, “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me, teach me your paths.” That can be taken in two ways. On the one hand, it prays that we may learn what it means to live out God’s plan for humanity. “Knowing” in this sense is experiential. Because we learn best by doing, to know God’s ways means that by walking God’s path through our life, we will become more adept at doing God’s will with every step we take.

We can also interpret the request to know the ways of the Lord as an appeal to understand how God relates to humanity. That leads to contemplation of God’s ways: “Your compassion … and your love are from of old.” We are thus invited to recall how God has led humanity through the ages and how God’s grace has been active in our own lives.

The final verse of the psalm repeats one of the lessons of the story of Jonah and the Ninevites: God can only teach us as much as we are willing to learn. Only the humble are open to divine guidance; only those who admit they are sinners can experience God’s compassion. This psalm leads us to be in touch with God’s love and to pray that we may live it out. We need to pray Psalm 25 from our heart, otherwise it will be no more for us than a clever acrostic.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2017 Reflections, 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

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Focal Themes

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Life Recovery Bible

Forgiving others who have harmed us

Psalm 25:1-7 When we place our faith in God, we can trust him to care for us and help us overcome the things in our life that would destroy us. We need to ask him to show us how to live according to his truth. Because of his great love and compassion, he will forgive our past sins when we ask him to. And while forgiveness for our sins is important, it is also important for us to forgive others who have harmed us. As we forgive others, we can release our anger and focus on our own recovery.

Admitting we are powerless over our dependency

Psalm 25:8-10 We need to let God change us, yet we cannot expect him to work his transformation in our life if we are still proud and unwilling to admit that we are helpless apart from him. The first step in recovery is humbly admitting that we are powerless over our dependency. Only after we do this can we experience God’s healing work in our life.

SOURCE: Content taken from Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition. Copyright © 2019. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

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Bible Study

God’s Ways

Psalm 25, attributed to David, is a lament in which each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  The psalm mixes heartfelt pleas with expressions of confidence in God, who in His mercy, forgives and guides the humble and contrite.

In verses 4-5, the psalmist asks God to give him instruction and guide him in truth; he acknowledges that his salvation comes from God.  In verses 6-7, he asks God to remember him and forgive him with the same compassion, love, and goodness that He extended to His covenant people from the beginning of His relationship with Israel.  In verses 8-9, the psalmist places both sinners and the humble within the same petition since it is the humble person who is the one who acknowledges and repents his sin.

The psalmist’s petition finds fulfillment in the Incarnation and sacred mission of Jesus Christ, who leads the faithful on the path to eternal salvation (Jn 10:1-18).  God reveals the truth of the deadly consequences of sins and shows His mercy to those who humbly repent and turn back to fellowship with Him.  God judges everyone’s works: righteous deeds and those that are wicked (Mt 25:31-46). These are “the ways of God manifested in God the Son: the way of mercy and the way of judgment” (St. Augustine, Enarrationes in Psalmos, 24, 10).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Second Reading

3B Ordinary Time

commentary

The world in its present form is passing away — 1 Cor 7:31

Key Points

The time is short

1 Cor 7:29-31

  • Early in his ministry, Paul expected the second coming of Jesus at any moment.
  • Paul points out in today’s reading that happiness and security can not be found in material things.
  • All other things are subordinate to life in Jesus.
SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor

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Reflections

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau

The time is short for the coming of the Lord

SECOND READING — Paul in writing to the Corinthians now deals with the urgency of spiritual priorities in view of the Second Coming of Christ. Since the time is indeed short, should we not give first attention to the things of the spirit? Paul may have been convinced that Christ was to return in the immediate future. Or, he may have been saying that whatever time we have, it is always very short, when we will have to give an account for our lives. In this context, marriage is not an absolute requirement for all people. The practice of consecrated celibacy in the Church today continues to call attention to the fact that life in this world is not forever. The rest of the Church and the world at large need to be reminded that the time is short. Those whohave given up marriage for the sake of the kingdom of God testify daily to that teaching.

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Fr. Eamon Tobin

We are to conform our lives to Christ

SECOND READING — There is a sense of urgency in this reading as there is in the First and Third Readings. Paul believes Jesus’ Second Coming is imminent so he sets out to show his readers how to live in a world that is transitory. In light of the fact that the world will soon be coming to an end, it is foolish to treat as permanent that which is transitory. Paul is not suggesting that people sit around and do nothing but that their primary focus should be on “higher things” – that they should use their time to conform their lives to Christ.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone

Seeking sustainable development in today’s world

SECOND READING — Today’s short selection from 1 Corinthians might be dismissed as something written in a very different time and place, scarcely applicable to our times. Some commentators think Paul was speaking of an imminent end of the world — something we know didn’t happen. Others say that Paul was referring to the end of a way of living; the world his community knew was quickly losing meaning in the light of Christ’s resurrection. The more people came to understand Christ, the more the meaning of their world was changing.

To understand this reading better, we should know how Paul understood time. In his conceptual world there were two kinds of time. Chronos is the time that passes in regular, measurable intervals, of seconds, weeks and centuries. It is always the same. Then, there is time called kairos, the meaning-filled dimension of time. The time Paul talks about here, is kairos, grace-infused time, the kind of time that calls forth life-changing decisions. Paul told the Corinthians that their kairos had come: The old world was passing away because Christ was risen. It was time to give all their energy and attention to the new reality happening among them.

Our situation today is different but hardly less urgent. According to what Francis has written in Laudato Si’, the most pressing and universal problem of our day is environmental destruction. Francis sounds like Paul and imitates his passion as he laments that efforts to seek solutions to the environmental crisis have been stymied by powerful opposition, lack of interest, obstructionist attitudes, denial, indifference, resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. Just as Paul suggested that the Corinthians adjusted  to the most basic dimensions of their lives to respond to their times, Francis is calling for a “new and universal solidarity” to “redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation” (#14).

Where Paul and Pope Francis coincide most closely is in seeing the demands of their times as extraordinarily urgent. Francis addresses his appeal to all people living on this planet because it is imperative that the whole human family become involved in seeking sustainable development. Although he wrote to all people, Francis explained his certainty that solutions are possible in the light of Christian faith and hope. He reminds us that the Creator does not abandon us, that we still have the ability to work together in building our common home (#13).  Neither Francis nor Paul lack hope, but they both beg us to recognize that time is running out.

©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Proclamation Tips for Lectors

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Lisa Bellecci-St.romain

SOURCE: lisamsw
Paul J. Schlachter

Points to consider

  • I spend most of my waking hours planning for the future of my family and my household.  The sun will rise tomorrow and the high and low temperatures will be such and such.  My listeners plan their lives in equal fashion.  That is why we should all be startled to hear the apostle say that the time is running out.  Of course he is writing to a community a short time after the Resurrection, and they all expected the imminent return of Christ.  But I cannot let the church off so easily.
  • Every time we gather to give thanks, we are proclaiming God’s time, the last days when appearances are reversed and the truth will out.  Look at our daily priorities.
  • First, our commitments to others.  Let those having wives act as if not having them.
  • Then, our reactions to success and failure in our daily lives.  Those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing.
  • Finally, our wealth.  I invest my wealth for the long run and I consider it a personal affront to fall short in my own finances.  I fill my house and study with appliances, recordings and other possessions.  And yet, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully.

Key elements

  • Central point: It is stated in the beginning of the passage and also at the end, and each deserves equal weight.  The world in its present form is passing away.
  • The message for our assembly: We must begin to see our world with God’s eyes.
  • I will challenge myself: To believe firmly what I am saying, against all appearances in 2015 forecasts and plans, peeking as it were over my glasses to suggest to the congregation that there is a lesson for us here.
SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at LectorWorks.org
Greg Warnusz

Introducing the reading at Mass

At the time he wrote this early letter, Saint Paul, like most Christians then, believed Jesus was soon to return in glory, and everything would change. This is some of his advice on getting prepared.

Oral interpretation

The historical situation

There were many reasons why Saint Paul had to be strict and detailed in his moral teaching to the Christians in Corinth. Among them:

  • Corinth was a bawdy seaport, where visitors and the locals who would accommodate them had a typical seaport’s set of ethics.
  • Corinth, while not an Athens, was a center of philosophical and religious ferment; new and bizarre ideas were constantly in the air. Christianity seemed to be at least an ambitious development of old Judaism, if not an entirely new religion, with plenty of yet unanswered questions.
  • Christians believed that Jesus was soon to return in glory, bringing the world to an end. That changes your long-term planning, if not everything else.

For all these reasons, Paul spends all of chapter 7 on marriage and sexual morality. If you read the whole chapter, you’ll see that the Lectionary’s three verses are the the most tame.Dan Nelson quotes a scholar with interesting ideas about the meaning of “those weeping … rejoicing … [and] buying …” Even if you interpret Paul’s directives to the married, the weepers, rejoicers, and buyers more generically, the point stands: The imminent coming of Christ again in glory changes everything.

Proclaiming it

The reading is bracketed with statements about the end of the world. Be sure to emphasize those. I say this not because I anticipate the coming of the Lord in glory immediately, but because that anticipation, however immediate or remote, is part of who we are as Christians.

SOURCE: Greg Warnusz at LectorPrep.org

Focal Themes

Theology of Work Commentary

Maintain the proper perspective

SECOND READING— Paul addresses the question of whether the promised return of the Lord implies that Christians should abandon ordinary daily life, includ­ing work.

I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on . . . let those who buy [be] as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. (1 Cor. 7:29–31)

Apparently some believers neglected family duties and ceased work­ing, in the same way you might neglect to sweep the floor before mov­ing to a new house. Paul had previously dealt with this situation in the church in Thessalonica and given unambiguous instructions.

Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. (2 Thess. 3:10–12)

Paul’s logic will be easier to understand if we recognize that verse 29 does not indicate merely that “the time is short” in the sense that Jesus’ second coming is almost here. Paul uses a verb here that describes how an object is pushed together (synestalmenos), so that it becomes shorter or smaller as a whole. “Time has been compressed” might be a better translation, as suggested by the NASB rendering, or “Time has been shortened.” What Paul apparently means is that since Christ has come, the end of the vast expanse of time has at last become visible. “The future outcome of this world has become crystal clear,” writes scholar David E. Garland.[1] Verse 31 explains that “the present form of this world is passing away.” The “present form” has the sense of “the way things are” in our fallen world of damaged social and economic relationships. Paul wants his readers to understand that Christ’s coming has already effected a change in the very fabric of life. The values and aspirations that are simply taken for granted in the present way of doing things are no longer operative for believers.

The proper response to the compression of time is not to cease work­ing but to work differently. The old attitudes toward everyday life and its affairs must be replaced. This brings us back to the paradoxical state­ments in 1 Corinthians 7:29–31. We should buy, yet be as though we have no possessions. We should deal with the world as though not dealing with the world as we know it. That is, we may make use of the things this world has to offer, but we shouldn’t accept the world’s values and principles when they get in the way of God’s kingdom. The things we buy, we should employ for the good of others instead of holding tightly to them. When we bargain in the market, we should seek the good of the person from whom we buy, not just our own interests. In other words, Paul is calling believ­ers to “a radically new understanding of their relationship to the world.[2]

Our old attitude is that we work to make life more comfortable and satisfying for ourselves and those close to us. We seek to gather things into our possession that we think will bring us status, security, and ad­vantage over others. We compartmentalize worship of our gods first, then attention to our marriage second, then work third, and then civic engagement fourth, if we have any time and energy left. The new atti­tude is that we work to benefit ourselves, those close to us, and all those for whom Jesus worked and died. We seek to release the things in our possession for use where they will make the world more as God desires it. We integrate our lives of worship, family, work, and society and seek to invest in—rather than shuffle around—physical, intellectual, cultural, moral, and spiritual capital. In this we emulate the forefather of the people of God, Abraham, to whom God said, “I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Gen. 12:2).

SOURCE: © 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)

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Life Recovery Bible

_

No Commentary — for this passage

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Bible Study

Time is Short

Exegesis Outline

Sunday’s Second Reading

Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.
Introduction

St. Paul warns us in the Second Reading that time is short, and one must not hesitate because “the world in its present form is passing away.” He reminds us that the day when the Lord will return in glory, followed by His Day of Judgment is unknown. To hesitate to accept your calling to share the Gospel of salvation may mean another lost soul instead of the rebirth in Christian baptism of another child of God and a brother or sister in the Church’s family.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Major Points to Consider
by Michal E. Hunt (Agape Bible Study)

29 I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out.  From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, 30 those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, 31 those using the world as not using it fully.  For the world in its present form is passing away.

St. Paul and the Apostles Sts. Peter and John remind us in their letters that life is short (cf. Rom 13:11-14; 2 Pt 3:8; 1 Jn 2:15-17).  They give us this warning to encourage us to make the best use of our time to serve Jesus Christ and carry His Gospel of salvation to others for His sake.  For this reason, a Christian should be detached from material things and never become a servant of the world (cf. 1 Cor 7:23; Lumen Gentium, 42).  Instead, the Christian must always have the goal of eternal life as his focus.

St. Teresa of Avila wrote it would help us: “… if we keep a very constant care of the vanity of all things, and the rapidity with which they pass away, so that we may withdraw our affections from everything and fix them on what will last forever.  This may seem to be a poor kind of help, but it will have the effect of greatly fortifying the soul” (Way of Perfection, chapter 10).

St. Paul warned in verse 31: “the world in its present form is passing away.”  We do not know when Christ will return to judge the world; therefore, we must not waste our time in selfish, worldly pursuits.  We must take up the mission Jesus gave every Christian to teach Christ’s love, to call for the repentance of sins, and share Jesus’ Gospel of salvation with our family, our community, and the world before it is too late (Mt 28:19-20; Lk 24:47; Acts 1:8).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Gospel Reading

3B Ordinary Time

commentary
Detail from "Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew" by Lorenzin Veneziano (1370).

“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. — Mk 1:17-18

Key Points

Come, follow me

Mk 1:14-20

  • Mark’s Gospel reveals Jesus to be the fulfillment of the promised Messiah.
  • Jesus is the Good News.
  • In today’s passage, the first disciples respond immediately to Jesus call to have faith in the good news.

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Reflections

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau

Jesus wants disciples to follow him now

GOSPEL —In Mark’s Gospel, there is always a note of urgency to everything. “Immediately after this or that, Jesus went on right away to do something else.” “The time is now!” “At once, Jesus asked them to come with him.” There is no time just to be casual about so important a message as the one brought by Jesus. We need to hear: “The kingdom is now!” Waiting for another time in the future will not work.

The Good News which Jesus brings consists in this: All that God has done in the past will now begin to bear fruit. Salvation is available to all now, not just a promise of salvation for some future life, after death. God’s reign is made real in Jesus. All who surrender their lives to Jesus do come under the rule of God, immediately. That surrender happens when we repent. To repent is not just to feel sorry for our sins. It consists in the action of turning our lives around to bring them into conformity with God’s will. To “believe in the Gospel” is notjust something in the head and mind and feelings. It is a handing over of one’s whole self to the message and to the messenger, Jesus Christ.

One of the formulas used in imparting ashes on Ash Wednesday goes like this: “Repent! And believe in the Gospel!”

Once we have given ourselves over to Jesus Christ and to his values, we need to continually renew that self-giving. A once-and-for-all conversion is not much of a conversion. It wears thin with time. The liturgy and the Lectionary offer us the recurring of seasons during which we will dig ever deeper into the mystery of our conversion.

With whole-hearted abandon, we have come close to Jesus; with urgency, we follow him on the road to the cross and to his resurrection. “They left their nets and followed him. They left their father, Zebedee, in the boat along with the other men!”

© 2015 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Fr. Eamon Tobin

Discipleship leads to mission

GOSPEL — In the Gospel, the mention of John the Baptist’s arrest signals that the reign of God would not be established without sacrifice and that following Jesus could be dangerous. Jesus begins his preaching with a call to repentance. The call to repentance connects his preaching with that of John the Baptist’s. If the Ninevites responded so fully to the preaching of Jonah,how much more should we respond to Jesus?

The Gospel goes on to relate the call of four apostles: two sets of brothers, Peter and Andrew, and James and John. We notice their immediate response to Jesus just like the Ninevites’ immediate response to Jonah.

Discipleship leads to mission: “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” These men are called to become disciples and make disciples. So it is with us: we are called to radical conversion to Christ and called to lead others to Christ.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone

The Gospel calls for a radical response

GOSPEL — Today’s reading from Mark is like a Gospel in miniature. Mark frames John’s arrest as the decisive end of the old and the beginning of the new. Jesus began his preaching saying “The time … is at hand.” This “time” is kairos: the definitive time, not a season of the liturgical year or a lunar month, but the time of fulfillment. There has never been a time like this.

The reason Jesus proclaims this as “the kairos moment” of history is that the kingdom of God is at hand. The kingdom of which Jesus spoke was not a place and it had nothing to do with governance in the normal sense of the word. As Scripture scholar James Edwards explains, Mark’s Gospel never speaks of God as king, but rather of “entering the kingdom as entering a new state of being” (The Gospel of Mark). The kingdom of God is a reality that springs from relationship with Jesus of Nazareth. It is a state of heart and mind that comes from getting caught up in his vision of life. The kingdom of God is a way of living and thinking, a radically new orientation toward existence. It affects absolutely everything about a person’s life.

As we envision today’s Gospel scene, we might consider how this news affected Jesus himself. Mark has already told us that Jesus was being led by the Spirit of God (1:12). It was the Spirit who inspired him to proclaim that the new moment of history had arrived. We rarely consider the enthusiasm Jesus must have felt and exhibited as he spread this idea. Jesus believed that God was at work as never before, and that it was happening through him and the mission he was given. That announcement, Jesus’ preaching to the masses, must have communicated an almost irresistible joy and hope. It led people to repent and believe by accepting the invitation to adopt a wholly new perspective on life.

Jesus made his announcement in public, he invited the crowds, the ordinary folks in plazas and synagogues, around the seashore and on the hillsides; he wanted everybody in on it. Then, there were some others who were represented by the four fishermen we hear about today. These were the ones he invited to give themselves entirely to spreading the message with him. “They abandoned their nets and followed.”

Everyone who heard Jesus was called to recognize the kairos and make a decision for or against his message. Everyone who accepted him was called to learn a new way of living, a new way of hoping, a new way of understanding life and even death itself. Some were invited not just to live in that way, but to make spreading the news about it the core activity of their life. We know some of their names: the Twelve (variously named) who represented the new Israel, the women who traveled with Jesus to Jerusalem and who remained as witnesses to his crucifixion, the 72 (from Luke’s Gospel) and Paul. These, known or anonymous, shared not just Jesus’ message, but his mission journey. They gave up their ordinary occupations to go with him and learn what it meant to continue his mission. Because Jesus’ preaching of the Gospel began with the handing over of John the Baptist, they knew the risks; they had to learn that accepting the invitation to follow in this way would cost them their lives, sometimes in martyrdom, always in learning to give everything they had and were.

Today’s Gospel narrative summarizes the entire Gospel and invites us to step into it. The kairos time of fulfillment that began with Jesus’ preaching continues and everyone is invited to become caught up in it. It is simply a question of allowing ourselves to be so influenced by Jesus that his vision colors everything else. This Gospel also calls us to prayerfully ponder our Christian vocation and to pray particularly for those who may be called to leave everything behind to dedicate themselves to a lifetime of spreading the Gospel.

The Gospel calls for a radical response. Not everyone can or should leave their nets and boats, but all of us are called to discern God’s will and respond to our kairos. Like the people of Nineveh, we have time, but as Francis warns us, it is running out.

©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Proclamation Tips

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Paul J. Schlachter

Points to consider

  • What a contrast with the forecasts of doom and destruction we heard in the other two readings!  Jesus is proclaiming the gospel of God but not in a hellfire way: This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Jesus is the most constructive preacher I have ever heard.
  • At the same time, Jesus remains the most radical, most uncompromising preacher I have ever heard.  Repent, and believe in the gospel.  How can I find the tone to convey such biting and climactic words?
  • Jesus passed by the Sea of Galilee.  I recall certain crossroads moments in my life—this retreat, that visiting speaker, this news report—never to be repeated.  Just as in my life, most likely his reputation preceded him and they all knew him from before.  But now the time has arrived to take a stand.  Come after meHe called them.  There is really no call unless someone hears you, as it happens in the passage, and I will make sure that people hear me say it decisively.
  • They abandoned their nets and followed him.  Let this not be a storybook encounter, but one that could and has happened to each of us.  How else explain our presence in the assembly today?  When we repeat in song the catchy phrase, ‘No turning back, no turning back,’ how deeply do we mean it?
  • Central theme: I can hear a suddenness all through these words, and through all the original Greek of Mark’s Gospel.  The word ‘immediately’ appears often there, although the translators of the Lectionary have removed it from our readings.  They abandoned their nets.
  • Message for our assembly: Are we attuned to God’s time?  Are we ready to repent and give our lives for the Gospel?
  • I will challenge myself: To speak to the sudden arrival of God’s kingdom and the urgent need for reform.

Word to Eucharist

  • Do we process again as we always have?  Or are we open to change, to the growth in the Spirit that Christ urges on us?
SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at LectorWorks.org

Focal Themes

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Theology of Work Commentary

Work does not define who we are

GOSPEL— This section needs to be treated cautiously: while the disciples are paradigms of the Christian life, they also occupy a unique position in the story of salvation. Their summons to a distinctive kind of service, and to the forsaking of their current employment, does not establish a universal pattern for Christian life and vocation. Many, indeed most, of those who follow Jesus do not quit their jobs to do so. Nevertheless, the way in which the demands of the kingdom cut across and override the usual principles of society are transferable and enlightening to our work.

The opening clause of Mark 1:16 presents Jesus as itinerant (“as he passed along”), and he calls these fishermen to follow him on the road. This is more than just a challenge to leave behind income and stability or, as we might put it, to get out of our “comfort zone.” Mark’s account of this incident records a detail lacking in the other accounts, namely, that James and John leave their father Zebedee “with the hired men” (Mark 1:20). They themselves were not hired men or day labourers, but rather were a part of what was probably a relatively successful family business. As Suzanne Watts Henderson notes in relation to the response of the disciples, the “piling up of particulars underscores the full weight of the verb [to leave]: not just nets are left behind, but a named father, a boat and indeed an entire enterprise.”[1] For these disciples to follow Jesus, they have to demonstrate a willingness to allow their identity, status, and worth to primarily be determined in relation to him.

Fishing was a major industry in Galilee, with a connected sub-industry of fish salting.[2] At a time of social turbulence in Galilee, these two related industries supported each other and remained steady. The willingness of the disciples to forsake such stability is quite remarkable. Economic stability is no longer their chief purpose for working. Yet even here we must be cautious. Jesus does not reject the earthly vocation of these men but reorients it. Jesus calls Simon and Andrew to be “fishers of people” (Mark 1:17), thereby affirming their former work as an image of the new role to which he is calling them. Although most Christians are not called to leave their jobs and become wandering preachers, we are called to ground our identity in Christ. Whether we leave our jobs or not, a disciple’s identity is no longer “fisherman,” “tax collector,” or anything else except “follower of Jesus.” This challenges us to resist the temptation to make our work the defining element of our sense of who we are.

SOURCE: © 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)

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Life Recovery Bible

_

No Commentary — for this passage

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Bible Study

Jesus Calls the Galilean Fishermen to Discipleship

Exegesis Outline

Sunday’s Gospel

Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.
Introduction

In the Gospel Reading, the Galilean fishermen hear Jesus’ call to discipleship and give up everything to follow the Messiah. They decided to follow Him without knowing where He would lead them. Their response to the call of Jesus Christ is an example of how we should all trust God and follow our special calling because the reward merited for us by Jesus is eternal!

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Major Points to Consider
by Michal E. Hunt (Agape Bible Study)

IMMEDIATELY, NOW, AT ONCE

The Greek word euthus, usually translated “immediately,” “now,” or “at once,” is a key term in Mark’s Gospel, stressing the necessity of an immediate response to Jesus.  Mark uses the adverb 47 times in his 675 verses.


HEROD ANTIPAS

The tetrarch Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great and ruler of Galilee in the north and Perea on the southeast side of the Jordan River where St. John baptized repentant sinners in preparation for the coming of the Messiah.  Antipas had an affair with his niece (Herod the Great’s granddaughter), who was also his brother’s wife.  He convinced her to divorce her husband and marry him, even though the Law of Moses forbade such a union.  As an ordained priest of the Sinai Covenant, John the Baptist condemned Herod Antipas and his wife Herodias for the sin of adultery.  In retaliation for John’s public denouncement, Herod Antipas arrested John and imprisoned him in the Herodian fortress in Perea called Macherus (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18.5.2; also see Mt 4:12-17; 14:3-12).


JOHN’S ARREST

John’s arrest was the signal that his ministry had come to an end, and Jesus’s ministry must begin.  According to St. Luke’s Gospel, Jesus was thirty years old at the beginning of His public ministry (Lk 3:23), the same age that His ancestor David became King of Israel (2 Sam 5:4).  The Galilee was the perfect location for Jesus to make the headquarters of His ministry.  The region was a crossroads for the great Via Maris, the ancient trade route that came out of Egypt, extended along the Mediterranean coast, passed through the Galilee, and continued into Syria, Asia Minor, and Mesopotamia.  Jesus didn’t have to go to the various neighboring Gentile nations where Jews lived because they came to Him in the three yearly pilgrimages to the Jerusalem Temple as commanded in the Law of Moses (Ex 23:14-17; 34:18-24; Dt 16:16; 2 Chr 8:3).


THE CALL OF SIMON AND ANDREW

In verses 16-20, Jesus called His first group of Galilean disciples.  The brothers Simon and Andrew, and the sons of Zebedee were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee who owned their boats.  They were not poor but were probably well-to-do since they had hired men who worked for them (verse 20), and after spending almost three years following Jesus, they still had a fishing business (see Jn 21:3).  Fishermen who owned their boats on the Sea of Galilee were usually under contract to supply fish to the Roman government, and any fish they caught beyond their contracted amount could be sold for a profit.

This encounter with Jesus was not the first time Simon, Andrew, and the Zebedee brothers had seen Him or been exposed to His message (see Jn 1:35-42 in last Sunday’s Gospel reading).  They had all met him at the site of St. John’s ritual baptisms of repentance and purification on the east side of the Jordan River.  At that time, the Baptist identified Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” and the “Son of God” who will baptize men with “water and the Holy Spirit” (Jn 1:29, 33-34; Mk 1:8).

Andrew and another disciple (probably John Zebedee) spent an entire day talking with Jesus (Jn 1:35-39).  Later, Andrew brought his brother Simon to meet “the Messiah,” and Jesus gave Simon the name/title Kepha in Aramaic, transliterated into the Greek text as Cephas (Jn 1:41-42).  It is a name that means “Rock” and translates into English as Peter from the Greek “Petros” (masculine form of the Greek word for rock that is petra).  It is a title/name for Simon that Jesus will repeat when Simon is the first of the Apostles to professes Jesus’ divinity as the Messiah and the Son of God (Mt 16:16-18).  The fishermen’s previous introduction to Jesus explains their decision to immediately leave their fishing boats to follow Him in verse 20.


APPLICATION FOR US TODAY

The message of this passage for the reader is that knowing Jesus’ true identity is not enough; one must be ready to give up everything to follow Him.  Notice that St. Mark uses the Greek word euthus twice in this passage.  Mark uses this term more in his Gospel than in the rest of the verses of the New Testament combined, and his use of this particular word is deliberate.  It points to the urgency of God’s actions in and through Jesus and the importance of our response to Jesus’ call to discipleship and service before it is too late.

The Galilean fishermen did not hesitate; they left everything and immediately followed Jesus.  Their decision to follow Jesus became their first steps on a journey to life in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Their response to the call of Jesus Christ is an example of how we should trust God and follow our special calling because the reward merited for us by Jesus is eternal!

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Catena Aurea

3B Ordinary Time

The Catena Aurea (Golden Chain) is Thomas Aquinas’ compilation of Patristic commentary on the Gospels. It seamlessly weaves together extracts from various Church Fathers.

Annotated index of Church Fathers used in commentary

Third Century

  • Origen – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian) – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great” – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople) – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh) (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch) – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.) – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt) – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople) – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre) – monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc) – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria

Mk 1:14-20

VERSES 14-20

14. Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God,

15. And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. 1 Marc.) The Evangelist Mark follows Matthew in his order, and therefore after having said that Angels minister, he subjoins, But after that John was put into prison, Jesus came, &c. After the temptation and the ministry of Angels, He goes back into Galilee, teaching us not to resist the violence of evil men.

THEOPHYLACT. And to shew us that in persecutions we ought to retire, and not to await them; but when we fall into them, we must sustain them.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) He retired also that He might keep Himself for teaching and for healing, before He suffered, and after fulfilling all these things, might become obedient unto death.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) John being put in prison, fitly does the Lord begin to preach: wherefore there follows, Preaching the Gospel, &c. For when the Law ceases, the Gospel arises in its steps.

PSEUDO-JEROME. When the shadow ceases, the truth comes on; first, John in prison, the Law in Judæa; then, Jesus in Galilee, Paul among the Gentiles preaching the Gospel of the kingdom. For to an earthly kingdom succeeds poverty, to the poverty of Christians is given an everlasting kingdom; but earthly honour is like the foam of water, or smoke, or sleep.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Let no one, however, suppose that the putting of John in prison took place immediately after the forty days’ temptation and the fast of the Lord; for whosoever reads the Gospel of John will find, that the Lord taught many things before the putting of John in prison, and also did many miracles; for you have in his Gospel, This beginning of miracles did Jesus; (John 2:11) and afterwards, for John was not yet cast into prison. (John 3:24) Now it is said, that when John read the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, he approved indeed the text of the history, and affirmed that they had spoken truth, but said that they had composed the history of only one year after John was cast into prison, in which year also he suffered. Passing over then the year of which the transactions had been published by the three others, he related the events of the former period, before John was cast into prison. When therefore Mark had said that Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, he subjoins, saying, Since the time is fulfilled, &c.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. Cat. in Marc.) Since then the time was fulfilled, when the fulness of time was come, and God sent his Son, it was fitting that the race of man should obtain the last dispensation of God. And therefore he says, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Orig. in Matt. tom. x. 14. v. Orig. de Orat. 25, 26. in Matt. t. 12 14). But the kingdom of God is essentially the same as the kingdom of heaven, though they differ in idea. For by the kingdom of God is to be understood that in which God reigns; (non occ. v. Chrys, in Matt. Hom. 19. in c. 6:9.). and this in truth is in the region of the living, where, seeing God face to face, they will abide in the good things now promised to them; whether by this region one chooses to understand Love, or some other confirmatione of those who put on the likeness of things above, which are signified by the heavens. () For it is clear enough that the kingdom of God is confined neither by place nor by time.

THEOPHYLACT. Or else, the Lord means that the time of the Law is completed; as if He said, Up to this time the Law was at work; from this time the kingdom of God will work, that is, a conversation according to the Gospel, which is with reason likened to the kingdom of heaven. For when you see a man clothed in flesh living according to the Gospel, do you not say that he has the kingdom of heaven, which is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost? (Rom. 14:17)

The next word is, Repent.

PSEUDO-JEROME. For he must repent, who would keep close to eternal good, that is, to the kingdom of God. For he who would have the kernel, breaks the shell; the sweetness of the apple makes up for the bitterness of its root; the hope of gain makes the dangers of the sea pleasant; the hope of health takes away from the painfulness of medicine. They are able worthily to proclaim the preaching of Christ who have deserved to attain to the reward of forgiveness; and therefore after He has said, Repent, He subjoins, and believe the Gospel. For unless ye have believed, ye shall not understand.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Repent, therefore, and believe; that is, renounce dead works; for of what use is believing without good works? The merit of good works does not, however, bring to faith, but faith begins, that good works may follow.

VERSES 16-20

16. Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

17. And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.

18. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

19. And when he had gone a little farther thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.

20. And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.

GLOSS. (non occ.) The Evangelist, having mentioned the preaching of Christ to the multitude, goes on to the calling of the disciples, whom he made ministers of his preaching, whence it follows, And passing along the sea of Galilee, &c.

THEOPHYLACT. As the Evangelist John relates, Peter and Andrew were disciples of the Forerunner, but seeing that John had borne witness to Jesus, they joined themselves to him; afterwards, grieving that John had been cast into prison, they returned to their trade. Wherefore there follows, casting nets into the sea, for they were fishers. Look then upon them, living on their own labours, not on the fruits of iniquity; for such men were worthy to become the first disciples of Christ; whence it is subjoined, And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me. Now He calls them for the second time; for this is the second calling in respect of that, of which we read in John. But it is shewn to what they were called, when it is added, I will make you become fishers of men.

REMIGIUS. For by the net of holy preaching they drew fish, that is, men, from the depths of the sea, that is, of infidelity, to the light of faith. Wonderful indeed is this fishing! for fishes when they are caught, soon after die; when men are caught by the word of preaching, they rather are made alive.

BEDE. (in Marc. i. 6) Now fishers and unlettered men are sent to preach, that the faith of believers might be thought to lie in the power of God, not in eloquence or in learning. It goes on to say, and immediately they left their nets, and followed him.

THEOPHYLACT. For we must not allow any time to lapse, but at once follow the Lord. After these again, He catches James and John, because they also, though poor, supported the old age of their father. Wherefore there follows, And when he had gone a little farther thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, &c. But they left their father, because he would have hindered them in following Christ. Do thou, also, when thou art hindered by thy parents, leave them, and come to God. It is shewn by this that Zebedee was not a believer; but the mother of the Apostles believed, for she followed Christ, when Zebedee was dead.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) It may be asked, how he could call two fishers from each of the boats, (first, Peter and Andrew, then having gone a little further, the two others, sons of Zebedee,) when Luke says that James and John were called to help Peter and Andrew, and that it was to Peter only that Christ said, Fear not, from this time thou shalt catch men; (Luke 5:10) he also says, that at the same time, when they had brought their ships to land, they followed him. We must therefore understand that that transaction which Luke intimates happened first, and afterwards that they, as their custom was, had returned to their fishing. So that what Mark here relates happened afterwards; for in this case they followed the Lord, without drawing their boats ashore, (which they would have done had they meant to return,) and followed Him, as one calling them, and ordering them to follow.

PSEUDO-JEROME. Further, we are mystically carried away to heaven, like Elias, by this chariot, drawn by these fishers, as by four horses. On these four corner-stones the first Church is built; in these, as in the four Hebrew letters, (יהוה) we acknowledge the tetragrammaton, the name of the Lord, we who are commanded, after their example, to hear the voice of the Lord, and to forget (Ps. 45:11) the people of wickedness, and the house of our fathers’ conversation, which is folly before God, and the spider’s net, in the meshes of which we, like gnats, were all but fallen, and were confined by things vain as the air, which hangs on nothing; loathing also the ship of our former walk. For Adam, our forefather according to the flesh, is clothed with the skins of dead beasts; but now, having put off the old man, with his deeds, following the new man we are clothed with those skins of Solomon, with which the bride rejoices that she has been made beautiful. (Cant. 1:4. Vulg.) Again, Simon, means obedient; Andrew, manly; James, supplanter;f John, grace; by which four names, we are knit together into God’s host;g by obedience, that we may listen; by manliness, that we do battle; by overthrowing, that we may persevere; by grace, that we may be preserved. (supplantatione) Which four virtues are called cardinal; for by prudence, we obey; by justice, we bear ourselves manfully; by temperance, we tread the serpent underfoot; by fortitude, we earn the grace of God.

THEOPHYLACT. We must know also, that action is first called, then contemplation; for Peter is the type of the active life, for he was more ardent than the others, just as the active life is the more bustling; but John is the type of the contemplative life, for he speaks more fully of divine things.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000Commentary in public domain.

Faith Sharing

3B Ordinary Time

Introductory video to this Sunday by Larry Broding at Word-Sunday.com.
Directions: On this page you will find questions on the Sunday Readings that can be used in RCIA or Faith Sharing groups. Clicking on the PDF icons at bottom right will give participants additional commentary and resources.

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Word Sunday

by Larry Broding
Word Sunday

Turn back to God: Believe the Good News

FIRST READING

Jonah’s mission

s our faith narrow like that of Jonah or can we see others through God’s eyes?

PSALM

The path of the Lord

How smooth or rough has your spiritual path been over the past year?

How do you feed your spirit every day? How have your efforts given you comfort, even in the tough times?

SECOND READING

Detachment

What are your daily concerns for the moment? How can you detach yourself from them? How can you place them in the hands of God?

GOSPEL

Conversion and personal commitment

How many times have commitments you made changed your daily routine? What commitments have changed your life?

How has your life changed when you chose to believe in Christ? How have you renewed that choice?

Try to look at your life this past week through God’s eyes. Write down your spiritual successes and failures. How has God helped you with your successes? How have you disappointed God with your failures? Pray God renews your commitment to his Son this coming week.

©1999-2021 Larry Broding. Material may be copied for personal use or for use in any non-profit ministry. Materials may not be sold or used for personal financial gain.

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Small Group Questions

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

1. Share with the group or person next to you what spoke to you most in the Gospel. With this first question try to refrain from commenting on what others said. Just share what spoke to you and then move on to the next person.

2. In the First Reading and Gospel, there is a call to repentance. What does the word ‘repentance’ mean to you? During this Covid time, might repentance mean anything a bit different than pre-Covid time?

3. Our Church tells us that conversion is an ongoingand daily challenge. At this time, can you name an area of your life where conversion may be needed?

4. Can you recall the first time you had an experiential sense of God’s call? If so, what was that experience like for you?

5. In the Gospels, Peter, Andrew, James and John were not only called to follow Jesus, they were also called to be missionary disciples of Jesus. To what extent do you have a missionary sense in even small ways, like telling others about a good religious book you are reading. To what extent do you have “fire in your belly” for leading others to Christ?

6. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.

RESPONDING TO GOD’S WORD: Share with the person next to you one way you can act on this week’s readings. Suggestions: Let us be aware of the small conversions Jesus may be calling us to this week. Pray for the grace to notice God’s call.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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Discussion Questions

by Fr. Clement Thibodeau

1. Suppose Jesus calls two young women with very promising careers in banking and in law to leave everything and to go establish a shelter for battered women and children-at-risk.

  • Would you see this as a sign that the kingdom of God is still breaking out in our world?
  • What are some of the other signs that God is still at work in the world today?
  • Does God also work for good in the secular world?
  • How can those events be signs of salvation for us too?

2. Have you noticed how Jesus uses the very human and natural skills of the disciples (fishermen) to illustrate how the kingdom will be built up?

  • What are some of your natural and human skills which you have put to use in working for God’s glory?
  • Look around your group and compare the variety of gifts and of training that are available for working at the “harvest of the Lord.”
  • How can the Church make better use of the ordinary things in people’s lives to promote the Gospel message?

3. The Church is reminded that its most exalted duty is true discipleship to the Lord.

  • How can this community make its discipleship more obvious and more faithful?
  • How can the group you belong to become more overtly and more explicitly a gathering of true disciples?
  • What are some of the signs of authentic discipleship?
  • What would your group need to do concretely to manifest its commitment to Jesus Christ?
© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Bible Study Questions

by Vince Contreras

1. What was Jesus’ invitation to these fishermen? What seems unusual about their response? What prior knowledge of Jesus do you think they had (Mark 1:14-15; John 1:35-42)? What might the elder Zebedee felt (verse 22)? How significant is the fact that Jesus’ very first disciples were fishermen (verses 16-20; Jeremiah 16:14-16)?

2. When and why was John the Baptist arrested (verse 14; Matthew 4:12-17; Luke 4:14-15)? What significance does his arrest have for the beginning of Jesus’ ministry of preaching (verse 15)? How does it foreshadow the last days of his ministry?

3. What is it about Jesus that makes you want to follow him?

4. Different types of fishermen need different skills: sailing, casting, mending nets, reading charts, etc. If Jesus asked you to be a “fisher of men”, what skills could you bring?

5. Spiritually, are you still sitting on the shore mending nets? Leaving the boat? Following right after Jesus? Feeling left behind?

© 2014 Sunday Scripture Study for Catholics by Vince Contreras. Used with permission.
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