THE THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
(Jonah 3: 1-5.10; I Corinthians 7: 29-31; Mark 1: 14-20)
One day towards the end of this year we will turn to our neighbors at Mass to shake their hands. We will take the Blood of Christ from the cup. And we will see the smiles on the faces of the children in church. The Corona-19 virus will be arrested. We will be able to rejoice in the Lord. In the gospel we hear of the arrest of John launching another chain of good news.
John is treated in this Gospel of Mark as the last prophet of Israel. Like Isaiah and Amos, John has preached justice to great and humble alike. He even he faced King Herod with inconvenient truth. His arrest means the end of ancient times. Jesus says in truth: "'The time has been fulfilled.'" The new age introduces the Kingdom of God. In other words, the love of God the Father will no longer remain as a memory. It won't just be the story of the victory over Pharaoh or the exploits of David. Rather, it will be as palpable as the warmth of a fireplace when temperatures drop to zero. God will caress all men and women because we are created in his image. Like the one-time popular song said: "He has you and me, brother, in his hands ... he has the whole world in his hands."
We can rest safe now because God has come. But before we rest we have to fulfill Jesus' command: "'Repent and believe the gospel.' In other words, we have to leave selfishness and greed behind to take care of others. We have to protect the dignity of each person, particularly the most vulnerable. A nun tells of her father who was a gynecologist. One day the daughter asked her father if he had ever performed an abortion. He replied, "Yes." "How many?" she asked again. “At least a dozen when I was in my residency - he said - then something happened that made me stop. After doing an abortion one day, I went to tell the patient's sister that the surgery was over. Before I could leave, she asked me if it was alive. I knew that if I answered "no," it would have been a lie and if I answered "yes," I just killed someone. It was the last abortion I ever did”.
Eventually the physician became a Catholic and discerned the call to treat his patients according to the teachings of the Church. He went to train in a city far from his place of origin. The change meant a drastic reduction in income, but it seemed like God's will. He was like the fisherman brothers in the gospel. Simón and Andrés and Santiago and Juan receive a call from Jesus that means great sacrifices. Simón and Andrés leave their nets behind -- their livelihood. Santiago and Juan leave their own father in the boat.
Jesus tells the fishermen that they will be "’ fishers of men. " He is going to teach them how to call others to the kingdom of God. He does not stop calling with the apostles but calls us today. Could it be that we are called to tell others about God's love? Why not? The world needs to hear that God's love reaches every human person. The scope includes aborted fetuses and also their mothers. Somehow we have to convey to women who have had abortions that God still loves them. We have to inform them that if they recognize abortion as a mistake, God will forgive them so that they have peace.
Abortion divides political parties and increasingly religions. It's not leaving anytime soon. As disciples of Jesus, we have to defend human life from conception to natural death. But we don't want to alienate anyone. Rather, we want to be fishermen and women of others by extending the spirit of reconciliation. Yes, it is difficult, but we have Jesus as our teacher.