Third Sunday in Ordinary Time at Mississippi Abbey

Scripture Readings: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1 Cor 7:29-31; Mk 1:14-20 

In John’s gospel last week Jesus picked up His first two disciples. He didn’t call them; John the Baptist merely pointed Him out and something moved them to follow Him. Something.

Jesus turned to the aspiring disciples and did a quick job interview, asking them, “What are you looking for?” Their answer was not about them; it was about Him. (That got them the job!) They said, “Where are you staying?” The Greek word for “staying” has the sense of “Where do you abide? Where do you remain? Where do you make your home?”  In other words, “What are you about? What matters most to you?” Jesus said, “Come and see.” He looked at these men and He liked what He saw.

So today we see. We begin reading Mark’s gospel for this year and Mark tells us Jesus liked what He saw in the four men mentioned. They dropped what they were doing; they liked something they saw in Him.  Something. What is this “something”?To follow someone is to imitate the person. Imitation begins by awakening hope in the hearts of others which inspires them through the power of example. What inspires (but reminds one of her weaknesses, too) is virtuous living. It is the manifestation of authentic good. That good is to become self-emptying for the good of others. Our initial reaction to that might be, “What an order! I can’t go through with it!” Yet it is a lofty and noble intention; it appeals to the best part of us.  So one watches the model…follows the model. One begins to imagine self living like that. The intention and the example of the model begin to engrave itself on the soul; indeed, it takes up residence! That’s the “something” that moved the disciples today.

We have noticed that Jesus liked what He saw in the four men He called today. It really makes a difference if the model likes what he sees in you. As G.K. Chesterton said, “It is always the secure who are humble.” So given that security of knowing one is liked—even loved—the rest of the gospel is given to finding out where Jesus is staying; what He is about. Here’s the short version:

Once upon a time, God was walking through the streets looking for a home for His Son. He knocked on a lady’s door. Hearing His request, she thought to herself that perhaps He could rent her spare bedroom. God heard her thoughts and said, “Actually, I was looking to buy.”

“Oh,” she said, “I don’t think I want to sell. I need some space for myself. But you could use the back room. The rent’s quite low. Come in and take a look.” God looked it over and said, “I like it. I’ll take it on your terms.”

Once the Son settled in she began to think that perhaps she was being stingy, that the Son would be quite cramped in that small space. Sure enough God showed up at her door again. “Do you think you might have some extra space?” he asked. “Well, I’ve been thinking,” she said, “and I could offer your Son an extra room to rent.” “Thank you,” said God, “I’ll take the extra room. Maybe later you’ll decide to give my Son more room. Meanwhile, I like what I see.”

As time went on “something” seemed to eat at her. She began to feel still more uneasy and wanted to offer some more room. “But you see,” she said, “I still need some space for me.” “I understand,” God said, “I’ll wait. I like what I see.”

Eventually she offered God the whole top floor. He gladly accepted on behalf of His Son. She said, “I’d like to offer you the whole house, but I’m just not sure…” “I understand,” God said, “I’ll wait. I like what I see.”

After a bit more time God was again at the door. “I just want you to know that I’m still interested in buying your house. I wouldn’t put you out. We’d work it out together. Your house would be mine and my Son would live there. Actually,” He said, “you’d have more space than ever before.”

 “I can’t see how that could be true,” she replied.  “I know,” said God, “and to be honest it’s something I really can’t explain. It’s something you have to discover for yourself (“Come and see.”). It only happens if you let my Son have the whole house.”  “Sounds risky,” she said.  “Yes, but try me,” encouraged God. “I’m not sure. I’ll let you know.” “I’ll wait,” said God, “I like what I see.” 1

[1] Margaret Silf, One Hundred Wisdom Stories, p. 132