Homily for the third Sunday in the Year

Year B - Mk. 1:14-20


by

Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 

" Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel." And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea ; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them ; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him. "



Homily:


" Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.' "


Jesus inaugurates his mission; he begins to proclaim the Good News: "The time is fulfilled."


We live in time; we go forth, day after day, on the road of our life. Each day that passes is followed by another. We often make plans, great or small, which we then seek to make concrete. We set dates as deadlines for the completion of work, or to celebrate anniversaries: the ten years that our organization or company has been in existence, the twenty-five years of our marriage, of our priesthood, or of our religious vows... Sometimes, we anxiously await the "big day". And, eventually, the long-awaited day arrives!


This is what happened when Jesus learned of the arrest of John the Baptist: his Precursor having been deprived of the liberty necessary to continue preaching, Jesus inaugurated his own mission, that of the New and Eternal Covenant! The great day had arrived for Jesus, the hour had arrived when he was to accomplish the Father's plan to spread forth his kingdom! "The time is fulfilled."


When the "big day" arrives for us, we are happy, we jump for joy! But as we know from experience, our joy passes quickly, since it is not an eternal joy... As Saint Paul says, in today's epistle, "The form of this world is passing away." (1 Co. 7:31) The joy of Jesus, on the contrary, is endless and limitless, for, when he says, "The time is fulfilled," the reality is that eternity has entered into time, and time is truly fulfilled and full of the eternity of God!


Certainly, it was at the moment of the Incarnation of the Word in the womb of Mary that the time was fulfilled, as Saint Paul teaches: "But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman." (Gal. 4:4) But a thing may exist in itself and yet remain unknown to the world in which this same thing exists. For example, in the case of those who are reading this homily via the Internet, their names and email addresses are known to me, because otherwise I couldn't sent them any email. And I keep these addresses secret, since, usually, no one wants their address to be revealed to third parties. But if, in accordance with the wishes of one of my correspondents, I were to make his email address appear on my website, this correspondent would then become in a way a public figure, known, or knowable, to the entire world. In itself, this publication would not change anything about this person: he would continue to exist as he did before. However, he would have "taken flesh" through the publication of his name and address. This is similar to what happened when Jesus proclaimed: "The time is fulfilled."


" And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea ; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, 'Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.' And immediately they left their nets and followed him. "


We spoke of Simon last Sunday: he is the Apostle par excellence, the one whom Jesus "looked at" (Jn. 1:42). In today's gospel, too, Jesus "saw Simon..." But he saw him earning his livelihood as a fisherman. Just as Jesus, through his word, transformed Simon into Peter ("Cephas"), he also transformed him in a different way when he told him on that day: "I will make you become fishers of men."


In this case, the transformation is not limited to Simon. Jesus addresses his words equally to Andrew. And it is understood that this applies as well to each and every one of the Apostles that Jesus has chosen. But there is more. For, since the time of the Apostles, from century to century, through each of the Successors of Saint Peter, this appellation of Fisherman was perpetuated down to our day in the person of the Pope. The pontifical Bulls, documents which are exclusively proper to the Sovereign Pontiff, are sealed with the pontifical seal under the words "sub annulo pescatoris", "under the ring of the fisherman". This special ring of the Pope is broken upon the death of the Pope, not only so that no one else might make use of it, but also to signify that the Church has become a widow, the widow of he who was her spouse in the ministry of the Vicar of Christ.


So it is not only the Apostles who are called to become "fishers of men": all Christians, and even all men and women are called to become "fishers of men." For the Vicar of Christ testifies to this: he who is the spouse (and the Pope is the spouse of the Church) must also be a fisher, a fisher of men. And what is true for the husband is also true for the wife, for the two are one: "They become one flesh" (Gn. 2:24). So what are all the men and women of the world waiting for? Jesus calls them all: "I will make you become fishers of men." Is not the following sentence by Saint Paul more true now than it was in the Apostle's own time: "The appointed time has grown very short" ? (1 Co. 7:29)


" And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them ; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him. "


We had also spoken of John last Sunday: he was without doubt the very first disciple of John the Baptist who met Jesus, at the same time as Andrew, the brother of Simon. So here John is called to become an Apostle and a fisher of men! John the Baptist is in prison ; another John is called to replace him and follow Jesus. How great and privileged was the work of this ardent Apostle in the economy of the Revelation of the Mystery of God and the Church! If John the Baptist proclaimed the coming of the Son of God into the world, John the Apostle would forever be the one who proclaimed through all his writings the second coming of Christ. Hadn't Jesus himself declared to Saint Peter, speaking of John: "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?" (Jn. 21:22)


Let us pray to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary in order that she might prepare our heart to receive Jesus on this day! May the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ make each one of us "fishers of men"!



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