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THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Year B) 24th January 2021

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark (1:14-20)
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying,
“ The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the
sea - for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”
And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat
mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the
hired men, and followed him.


JESUS’ IMAGE OF FISHING


Some years ago Pope Benedict, in his Christmas message to the City and the world, had this to say: ‘ Invoking the ancient liturgical antiphon: O Emmanuel, our king and lawgiver, hope and salvation of the peoples: come and save us, O Lord our God’. This, Pope Benedict said is ‘the cry of men and women in every age, who sense that by themselves they cannot prevail over difficulties and dangers. They need to put their hands in a greater and stronger hand, a hand that reaches out to them from on high.
That hand is Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. It is that hand that God extends to humanity, to draw us out of the mire of sin and to set us firmly on rock, the secure rock of this truth and his love. Jesus Christ was sent by God the Father to save us above all from the evil, deeply rooted in men and women in history, the evil of separation from God’. This, Pope Benedict said is the great evil, from which we humans cannot save ourselves unless we rely on God’s help.
Inherent to the life and growth of all believers is our awareness of the constant need for repentance. Through our willingness to accept repentance, believers become witnesses who invite others to draw near to God as well. The fictional Jonah (First Reading) was a medium of grace through which the Minevites recognise their need for repentance and are saved. Jonah’s mission proved successful not because of his own virtue, but by virtue of God’s universal mercy. Jonah’s story reminds us that the truth of the Gospel may sometimes be spoken through less than worthy preachers. It is the message, not the medium that reaches out with grace and salvation.
When Jesus recruited disciples to join in his efforts at preaching the message, ‘Repent and believe in the Gospel’, he also offered them a mission. With his invitation ‘Come after me and I will make you fishers of people’, he called them and us to embrace repentance and faith as our way of life and then, to extend that same blessing to others by word and example. Of all the images he could have chosen, Jesus chose the image of fishing. Obviously this was a profession familiar to those he called to follow him. There are many good lessons that any of us might learn from someone who goes fishing for a living.
Regardless of whether one fishes with a net or a rod with a line, the fisher must go to where the fish are and offer them something that will entice them to take the bait. Disciples too, can be more effective when they are willing to be mobile. Often this requires leavng the comfort of home to venture into those public and private places where people live their lives. We have been entrusted with the ‘bait’ of the good news, which becomes more attractive when it is paired with our own good example. Another lesson we might learn from the fishers is to work without discriminating as to the worthiness of others.
There is no sign at the end of a fishing line that says ‘Good fish only’ – all humankind are invited. Fishers do not keep regular hours, they do not expect fish to make appointments to be present, so those who harvest them must accommodate their schedule, be persistent and wait. We too, as we relay the message handed onto us by Jesus to transmit to the next generation, must be patient and wait for the seed of that message to take root and grow – to realise the dream that God’s grace can eventually bring sinners to repentance and faith

Kevin Lyon
Archdeacon of Glendalough


 


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