Monday, January 13, 2020

Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

(I Samuel 1:1-8; Mark 1:14-20)

We may wonder how Elkanah, obviously a pious Israelite, could have two wives.  The Mosaic covenant allowed divorce, but it insisted on one wife at a time.  One commentator reasons that at this early stage of Israel’s history, marriage regulation was downplayed.  It was like our Catholic precept of attending mass on holydays of obligation.  Many pastors don’t even announce upcoming days of obligation and provide only one mass.  The commentator further suggests that Elkanah took a second wife in order to assure descendants.

Today’s gospel indicates a contrary dynamic to the concern about descendants.  James and John on hearing Jesus’ call leave their father behind to follow Jesus.  They renounce family for the sake of the kingdom.  Mark’s gospel, as the others, relate the in-breaking of the kingdom with Jesus, the Son of God.  Some may call this development a “big thing.”  That term, however, makes the coming of the kingdom just one important event among others.  The gospel writers are saying, on the other end, that this is the event to end events.  The coming of the kingdom of God represents the end of history.  It merits the abandoning of family concerns.

So we are left to wonder again.  How can history continue if it ended with Jesus’ dying and rising from the dead?  As incredible as it may sound, we live in an “in-between” time waiting for Jesus to return for the ultimate ending.  This is a time for preaching his Lordship so that all human beings may experience his salvation.  It is time for us to prepare for his coming with works of mercy.