THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (2020)
Psalms 27:1, 4, 13-14
1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
Can we ever fully understand what a striking thing Jesus does when He, the almighty and ever-living God, asks simple fishermen to help Him with the establishment of His kingdom? The importance of what Jesus does by the Sea of Galilee when He invites two brothers who are fishing to “Come after me,” in order that He might make them “fishers of men,” should not be lost on us. One set of brothers appeared to be not enough, and so Jesus, with His new friends, Peter and Andrew, asks another set of brothers, James and John, who were helping their father in a boat mending nets, calling to them, and they too follow Jesus, leaving their father high and dry. While the gospel specifically speaks of Jesus, it is safe to assume that they accompanied Jesus and “went around all of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease among the people.” This is what Jesus came into our fortunate, little world for, and in today’s gospel He turns fishermen into students, who will not only assist with the establishment of God’s kingdom, but they will become witnesses who will take that kingdom to the ends of the earth.
Could the kingdom have been established by divine fiat? Perhaps, but we would have missed the point that from the very beginning of His earthly ministry Jesus relied on the help of rather ordinary humans to accomplish His mission. He could have waited to find help from those who were better educated than these fishermen. It might have been a boon had He chosen His followers from those with more influence, those who spent more time around the synagogues, or those with a more special pedigree. But, had He done so, the kingdom might have appeared to be unreachable. There were surely Scribes and Pharisees who were definitely more religious, who might have been eager to follow Jesus if He asked them politely. But Jesus began with ordinary fishermen, and for that we should be eternally grateful. The inauspicious beginnings of Christianity teach us what we already know, that the Son of God came into our world to touch the hearts of ordinary people like you and me. The first to hear the “good news” were ordinary shepherds tending their flocks, and when it was time to get on with the hard work of establishing God’s kingdom, it was the ordinary laborers of the day, fishermen, who were chosen to give Jesus a hand.
We are descendants of the countless line of ordinary individuals who stretch back to the time of Jesus, and we, like Peter and Andrew, James and John, have chosen to follow Jesus and help Him establish His kingdom of justice and peace, of love and compassion, in this ordinary world in which we live among the ordinary people we come in contact with daily. We have seen the “great light” that came into our world, and when we reflect that light to others we fulfill our responsibility to “dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” Like Jesus and His helpers we proclaim the Gospel of the kingdom, less with our lips, and more by the way we live our lives. May we always be proud to be numbered among the ordinary people chosen by Jesus to make His kingdom present on earth.