Homily: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B
Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20
My homily at the 5:00 Mass today at Holy Ghost Church.
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus speaks the first words of his public ministry. “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand! Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” He is telling us in these few words that he himself is the culmination, the fulfillment, of everything Israel had been waiting for, everything the prophets had foretold. He is telling us that he is the Messiah, that he has come to fulfill all of the prophesies of old.
The first disciples in today’s gospel understood this and are meant to be an example for us. Jesus called them and what did they do? They dropped everything and followed him. They didn’t say “I’m going to have to think about this for awhile. Stop back in a week and I’ll let you know if I’m available.” No, they followed him…no hesitation, no delays.
The first disciples recognized Jesus for who he was and immediately understood that he had come to bring the Kingdom of God to fruition. We too must follow him with the same resolve, the same sense of urgency. Jesus is calling each of us to be fishers of men. He’s calling us to bring others into the Kingdom of God.
So, just what is this “Kingdom of God” Jesus speaks of and what does it mean that it is at hand? What Jesus is telling us that the time of a breakthrough of a new world is upon us. Something amazing and revolutionary is here among us, among us right now!
The Kingdom of God is the world of eternal life that God intended all of us to live in from the very beginning of time. It is ushered in by the person of Jesus Christ, who took our human nature upon himself so as to redeem us, to save us, from this old world over which death and decay have the final say.
While we still experience suffering, death, and decay in this present life, we can be sure that one day we will be freed from their grip. While we can not yet enter into the fullness of the Kingdom here in this life, we can begin to experience its hope and joy, allowing us to overcome the trials we all experience here in this life.
Not only does Jesus promise us a new life, but he also tells us in his that this new life is AT HAND! It is present in His very person and we can enter into that life by following him and receiving his very body and blood in the Holy Eucharist. Through the sacraments we are literally incorporated into his resurrected body!
When we REPENT and BELIEVE in the Gospel, we change our old ways of thinking, our old ways of manipulating others, and our old ways of selfishly experiencing the world around us. Our minds and our eyes change so as to think and see the world the way Jesus does.
We can only experience the Kingdom of God if we change the way we THINK. We must change the way we think about what we need and what we think about others. It’s that simple. We must see the world and our neighbors through Jesus’ eyes, the eyes of Love.
The Kingdom of God requires each of us to abandon our attachment to all those things we cling to in this world that we think will bring us happiness. Things that only bring temporary pleasure or satisfaction. Things that we selfishly take for ourselves. Things that we must continually chase after because the happiness we receive from them is fleeting, is temporary.
We must also stop using others to get what we want. Instead of using others, we must serve our neighbor, focusing on how we can help them get what they need. When we do this we live in the Kingdom!
Here’s the bottom line of my message today. We must be willing to change how we see EVERYTHING and realize that NOTHING can bring us true peace and joy other than doing God’s will in our lives. Nothing apart from living more fully in the Kingdom of God will bring us true happiness.
Why is this true? Why must we give up our attachments to things and self-serving behavior? Why must we understand that life is not about us, but about our commitment to doing God’s will?
Paul gives us the answer in today’s second reading when he tells us that EVERYTHING in its present state is passing away. Everything our secular culture associates with bringing happiness is temporary, it will not last.
This is why we can never be fully satisfied when we seek fulfillment in the things of this world. This is why so many people get bored with the things they have and always want something new, something bigger, something better. It’s because money, power and pleasure are all passing away and simply can not provide lasting satisfaction. Don’t depend on any of them for your happiness.
The only thing that is permanent is love. And genuine love can only be experienced when we give ourselves away to others, when we die to ourselves in service of Christ and his people; in service of the Kingdom of God. Love is about willing the good of the other, not about using others to get more for ourselves. To live in love is to live in the Kingdom of God.
Let’s pray. In the name of the Father…
Heavenly Father, help us to order our lives according to your priorities so as to live them to the fullest.
Help us change our priorities from those that seek to satisfy ourselves to those that seek to serve our neighbor.
Help us to take the first words of Your son’s public ministry to heart and to respond with the same sense of urgency as the first disciples did.
We pray that the Eucharist we are about to receive will strengthen us to follow you more closely so as to live more fully in your Kingdom of love.
In the name of the Father…. Amen.