The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
[Scripture Readings: Is 8:23-9:3, 1 Cor 1:10-17, Mk 4:12-23]
This is a Founder’s Weekend. Yesterday we celebrated and honored the Founding Fathers of our Cistercian Order, Saints Robert, Alberic, and Stephen, and their very simple beginnings.
Today we honor Jesus, one might say the Founder of the Founding Fathers of Citeaux and an even more simple beginning. After Jesus learned that John the Baptist was in prison he began to gather some disciples, the nucleus of his Church, the Church he was to found on earth, the only Church that had its beginnings in heaven. He is the only Founder who could say, “Before the world began, I AM.”
On that day, a thousand years before Citeaux, Jesus called two men who were fishing, “Follow me.” And before they could even evaluate what that meant, they followed him. And before they could reflect on their following him, Jesus was already inviting two more to follow him. And so the first two, Peter and Andrew, and the second two, James of Zebedee and John his brother, were the first disciples. They had their first inkling of the magnitude of what following Jesus might mean when he proceeded to go around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and curing every disease and illness among the people. If we could read their thoughts at that time they might have been thinking, “He has us in the palm of his hand.”
What is so amazing, at least to me, is that no promises were made to them except, “I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus asked no credentials, no resumes; they were, one might well say, overwhelmed by the light and the love in Jesus’ eyes and in his demeanor. They asked no questions: “What’s in it for me?”, or “Where do we go from here?” They just followed him.
We heard in the gospel that the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light. One would have to experience that darkness depicted therein to appreciate that great light. We welcomed Jesus, true Light of the world, at our Christmas Mass. The Light that never diminishes is eternal. How is it then that Jesus, the true Light of the world, is not spread to all parts of the same world, but darkness prevails in great measure, the same darkness that was experienced two thousand years ago. Call it what it is: evil. How to cope with it? We do not have to wait as our forbears did. We acknowledge it and overcome it by the way in which we live and help others to live.
In our Divine Office each day at the time of Terce during Lent, we sing these verses: “Come Holy Spirit ever One with God the Father and the Son. It is the hour our souls possess with your full flood of holiness. Let flesh and heart and lips and mind sound forth our witness to mankind. And love light up our mortal frame ’til others catch the living flame.”
It is our faith we proclaim to the world, and as often as we welcome Jesus, the true Light of the world in the Eucharist, that will make a difference and change the terrible darkness, evil, into light. And then the purpose for which Jesus came into our world will be accomplished. Father, thy will be done, thy kingdom come!