3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

01-24-2021Gospel Reflection© LPi

It was a normal day by all accounts, but John just wasn’t feeling himself. He was a little lightheaded and out of sorts. Later in the afternoon, he experienced a sharp pain in his chest and arm. Quick thinking and action brought John to the emergency department with a diagnosis of a significant heart attack. Surviving this ordeal, he found himself face to face with his cardiologist, having an honest conversation about things that needed to change. “I came close to death,” John found himself thinking. Then came the remorse. He was a young man with a loving wife and children who were very close to facing life without him. John found himself with intense sorrow for living an unchecked and self-indulgent life that almost brought him to his demise. He wanted to change.

We all have our wake-up calls. We have experiences and encounters that force us to really think twice about choices we have made and directions we have taken. Often, we find ourselves looking at those we have hurt square in the eye and wallowing in our foolishness. We regrettably realize that we have allowed our needs to lure us into making some cruel mistakes. We impulsively say things and flippantly do things that reveal our unredeemed and unhealed self. It is a self we stumble over and try to tame but can’t quite seem to master and control. Help!

We spin our wheels, naively thinking that we will somehow, perhaps through persistence, get ourselves unstuck. But, we don’t. We just get out of the car, feeling very helpless, and ignorantly look at the mess we got ourselves into. Did we ever think to ask someone for help? Or, taken the advice of One who is wiser and avoid this route altogether? “Come after me,” are words that Jesus says to all of us. In order to heed his invitation, we must leave our ego-self behind and follow.

When we really see and understand the freedom, peace, justice, and love he offers, we find ourselves with such sorrow in our hearts for how foolish and silly we have been. All the misguided choices and sinful actions come full view and we see how risky our random impassioned behaviors really have been. Repentance is beautiful. When done with a sincere and contrite heart, it directs us to the glory that can be ours, ignites us with the challenge of living a life in service of others and reminds us that all is well.

Creer para cambiar, es el secreto para no destruirnos. Recuerdo, al inicio de la pandemia, que muchas personas no creían la magnitud y alcance del virus. Hubo quienes hasta que lo vivieron en carne propia creyeron. Y luego comenzaron a decir: “Yo no creía esto, pero les digo cuídense, no se expongan, guarden la distancia, lávense las manos”. En la primera lectura, los ninivitas no creyeron hasta que Jonás predicó que la ciudad sería destruida. Sin embargo, ellos escucharon el mensaje y creyeron en la advertencia del peligro. Ayunaron e hicieron penitencia. ¡Hubo cambio del corazón, hubo conversión!

El Evangelio narra que Jesús llama a sus cuatro primeros discípulos, y proclama la Buena Nueva de Dios. Decía: “El tiempo se ha cumplido, el Reino de Dios está cerca. Renuncien a su mal camino y crean en la Buena Nueva” (Marcos 1:15). Observemos, que, después del anuncio viene la invitación al seguimiento. La similitud entre las lecturas es muy parecida. Jonás proclama, la gente de la ciudad responde. Jesús, anuncia la Buena Nueva y llama al ministerio a sus discípulos. Llamado, conversión, y misión están entrelazados. Lo principal en todo es creer, sin ese detalle del corazón, no puede darse respuesta. Ahora, se sigue proclamando la cercanía de Dios de muchas maneras, los caminos se abren al seguimiento, a darnos la mano unos a otros, a luchar hasta el cansancio por la salud de los demás. ¿Lo has visto o vivido así? Yo creo que sí. La conversión, sin duda es ablandar el corazón y el compromiso viene del mayor hasta el menor.