Sunday, January 10, 2016

This is the Time

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”  Mark 1:14-15

Things We Leave Behind (Lyrics by Michael Card)
There sits Simon,
So foolishly wise
Proudly he's tending his nets
Then Jesus calls,
And the boats drift away
All that he owns he forgets
More than the nets
He abandoned that day,
He found that his pride was soon drifting away
It's hard to imagine the freedom we find
From the things we leave behind.

John the Baptist called for a change of heart and conduct when his voice was crying out in the wilderness.  John asked, no pleaded, with his followers to turn their lives from sinful rebellion against God into humble obedience towards God.  Jesus picks up with the very same words that John used and added a twist: “Believe in the Good News!”

People can turn away from sin and live good lives.  However, without faith – piety, study AND action – they become good people, but not Christians. There is nothing wrong with being a good person.  Yet there is so much more to fulfill.  Want an example?  St. Mark immediately gives us epic examples of people turning toward God with the call of the first disciples – Simon, Andrew, James and John.

Curiously, these first disciples were two pairs of brothers.  Peter and Andrew just left their nets.  There was no marketing campaign.  No incentive to sign up with the itinerant preacher from Nazareth.  No lottery ticket or any promises.  Just the mysterious power of the words spoken by Jesus.  In Luke’s account, Simon was shown the power of Jesus over nature when he was commanded to put out to deeper water because Simon had not caught any fish that day.  John’s version places an episode like this after the resurrection when out of depression and discouragement, Simon needed more inspiration. Yet Mark skips this kind of sign entirely.  Jesus’ speaks for himself. 

Whether or not Simon needed the added example of the successful catch may be up for discussion.  However, either way, he and others became a fisher of men.

Fr. Joe McCloskey continues recovering from his stroke last March.  Today, his sister Peggy posted an update on his condition to The Caring Bridge.  If you have not seen it yet, here is the summary in her own words:

Jerry and I visited Bud today - it was the best visit we have had since the stroke. When Bud greeted us with "Are you going skiing today? I am going this afternoon," we didn't have high hopes for the visit but it just got better and better. We went to Mass with him, we sat with him during lunch where he wanted to hear family news & then when we went back to his room.  We read his cards and Caring Bridge new messages. He enjoyed that so much that we went back into old messages & reread some of them. There was such a sweet smile on his face as he briefly talked about the message writers.
Then Bud dictated a message to post in his behalf "Dear family and friends, I miss sharing my Sunday reflections with you!
Thanks for all your prayers! Always ready for a visitor."

Maybe Fr. Joe sensed from 200 miles away that last Sunday, we reprinted one of his classic reflections on Epiphany Sunday.  Keep in touch with our friend by sending cards to him at:
Fr. Joe McCloskey, SJ
c/o Manresa Hall
261 City Ave.
Merion Station, PA 19066

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