3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - A Time of Fulfillment

The Gospel of Mark is often referred to as the "Kingdom Gospel" because it builds on the initial proclamation found in today's reading. We, like the listeners in Galilee, are invited to repent and believe. Immediately following this invitation, we have two examples of what the invitation requires. The first followers of Jesus immediately abandon their nets, and the sons of Zebedee not only abandon their nets, they also abandon their father.


"This is the time of fulfillment," Jesus announced. All of the hopes and dreams of Israel are about to be realized. The many years of waiting are over. The kingdom of God is at hand. The Messiah has come. God will deliver his people from bondage and bring everlasting peace. But that's only part of the Good News.

Isn't it "good news" that God is always with us, that He stays with us, patiently and persistently until we recognize Him and fall happily, gratefully, into His embrace? That message alone should bring peace to our minds and hearts.

The first disciples leave everything immediately and without hesitation.  They have been waiting all their lives for this call and now they know that they must follow Jesus right then and there, even though it might involve personal loss and sacrifice. Nor is their response something private. It is a call to come together with others who have likewise responded. It means traveling along the road together with fellow disciples. In a very real sense, this was the beginning of "church."

No group of people, no family, no organization is without problems. We cannot possibly all think the same way. We cannot all come to the same decisions in matters of conscience or morality. We cannot be free of all doubt and we cannot be absolutely sinless.  But we can change the direction of our lives.  To "repent and believe" means to rethink our notion of who God is and how God acts towards us in the light of our sins. “The kingdom of God is at hand.” God is breaking into our worlds of isolation and indifference and calling us to faith.  Repentance asks that we make a complete turnaround in our lives towards God.

The first disciples dropped everything and left to follow Jesus immediately. We too need to recognize the immediacy of His call to us and  the importance that His message has for today's world.

Our role as disciples is to seek and find His goodness, His truth, and His love in all persons, and to connect with them eagerly. We need to reevaluate and understand our role as "church"  as that of being herald, proclaimer, model and catalyst. Constant dialogue and interaction must be the hallmarks of the Christian community, bringing about continual change and transformation which, as Cardinal Newman said more than a century ago, is the path to eventual perfection.

It will not be easy. It is never easy. It wasn't easy for the first disciples who left the busyness of their daily lives to follow and to proclaim. And so we must gather together listening to his life-giving word, welcoming his very substance into ourselves and respecting each other's good will and sincerity of conscience.  We must love both friend and stranger caring for the needs of all  and sharing the Good News - especially with those who are the most confused, the most in doubt and the most scandalized.

We have been invited to participate in important work. The Kingdom is at hand and this indeed is "good news."