From the Pulpit: Jan 21, 2018

January 21, 20 Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

How has your life changed since you decided to follow Jesus?
I suppose there are several responses to that question.
• First you might say, “my life really hasn’t changed at all.”
• Or, you might say, “my life is just about the same.”
• Or finally, you might say, “I have left my former way of life behind and great things have happened and I have experienced such a sense of joy and peace.”

Listen to how this Sundays gospel begins.
• John the Baptist has been arrested and now the ministry of Jesus full force.
• Here at the beginning of his gospel St. Mark records the first spoken words of Jesus. Here is what Jesus said, “this is the timer for film it. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news.”
• The key word in this phrase is the word “TIME”.
• The Greeks had two words for time—the word “kairos” and the word “chronos.”
• The word “chronos” was used to denote one event occurring after another.
• Actually our word chronology comes from this word.
• There is another word also used for time. It is the word “kairos.”
• This word” Kairos” is outside of measured time.
• It means God’s time. It’s that moment when the presence of God floods a person’s life and there’s the possibility for an encounter and change.
• In today’s gospel passage Jesus uses the word ‘Kairos’ to speak of the moment of fulfillment.
• In other words, God is about to break into human history with the possibility of change and transformation.
• It is precisely in this moment of encounter that God‘s presence penetrates into the life of a person

Our readings this weekend speak of this moment of encounter or kairos.

First reading
In the first reading we have the interesting story of Jonah and the people of Nineveh.
• Jonah has been given a mission to the Ninevites.
• Nineveh was the capital of Assyria.
• The Assyrians were about the meanest people around and were the enemies of Israel.
• Of course, Jonah couldn’t figure out why the Lord would even think about sparing them for their wickedness.
• Regardless of Jonah’s sentiments, God sends him to the city of Nineveh with the mission to preach repentance.
• Jonah is pretty sure that the Ninevites will not listen to him.
• So, he walks through the great city of Nineveh announcing that Nineveh will be destroyed for its wickedness unless they repent.
• To his surprise, the people of Nineveh repent of their evil ways and God forgoes the punishment he had threatened.
• For the people of Nineveh this was indeed a moment of kairos.
• It was a moment of encounter with the grace and the mercy of God. Yes, it was outside of regular time because it was God’s time.
• In that moment of Kairos they encountered the mercy of God and the power of his grace.
Instantly Lives were changed.

The same is true for the Gospel story for today. The entire story happens with in the context of Jesus’ opening words, “this is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand.”
• Here, we have the call of the disciples.
• Jesus is walking along the Sea of Galilee.
• As he does so he approaches Simon and his brother, both fisherman, casting their nets.
• Jesus says to them, “come follow me.”
• Without even considering the future, they immediately abandon their nets and follow him.
• Yes, they leave behind their families and their livelihood to follow Jesus.
• Wow! What a moment of grace!
• What a moment of Kairos, a moment of encounter which dramatically changed their lives.
• The same thing happens again when Jesus calls James and his brother John. They abandon their father, Zebedee and their boats and immediately follow him.
• Obviously, it is a moment of grace and encounter with the power of God’s presence.
• The striking thing about this call to discipleship is the sense of immediacy, and of abandonment.
• It is a precious moment of grace.

In responding to that call, the disciples put all of their trust in the encounter with Jesus.
• Why would the disciples followed Jesus?
• Why would they abandon so much? The answer rests in one word. ‘TRUST’.
• They trusted Jesus and opened their hearts to the presence of God‘s kingdom.
• That’s what it means to experience a moment of kairos.

The primary obstacle to trusting Jesus when we encounter him is “worry.”
• Worry can be described as fear or anxiety about the future.
• It consists of turning over in your mind again and again possible scenarios of what could go wrong.
• Sometimes worry he can totally disable a person because of the thinking about the future which is unknown.
• Yes, I must confess I am a worrier and I come from a family of worriers.
• When we worry, Jesus asks us to let go and to trust him. It’s like he says to us, “do you trust me enough to let go? Or, will you give this to me and let me take care of it?”
So many times however, we may be willing to give it to Jesus for a moment, but then take it back.

Gospel Challenge
Here is the gospel challenge for this week.
• Do an anxiety audit.
• Take some quiet time this week in prayer and just see what worries come immediately to your mind.
• Then, jot them down.
• With this list in your hand take each worry to Jesus and ask him to help you see where you need to trust him more.
• You may not be able to solve all your problems, but give them to Jesus and let him work them out with you

Remember, the encounter with Jesus is always a moment of grace.
• He asks us to trust him.
• In trusting him we have the power to let go and follow him.