Here is Deacon Lyn's Homily from the Third Week of Ordinary Time - January 21st.
Essential reading for every serious Christian!
The gospel today is essential to Jesus’s ministry & it’s the beginning of Mark’s Gospel which is the oldest of the 4 Gospels. Can you name them? It is central to Jesus’s major themes in a few phrases, time has come to it’s fullness, & every moment is crucial & what you get you have to get always in the “NOW” as we put it. That is what Jesus is saying. Right now is the time to get it, don’t wait! The “Kingdom of God is at hand.” You got to know we didn’t believe that. For the most part we push off the “Kingdom of God” until we die. Right? Nine out of Ten Catholics think that the Kingdom of God is heaven. No, The Kingdom of God is when God achieves God’s peace & justice in the world; “Right Now” between people. That’s what we believe. Check it out for yourself. If you live in the Kingdom of God here & now the assumption is that you will be ready for it later. So don’t wait, and push it off till later. He said, “The Kingdom of God is at hand. In this moment and then the word that is unfortunately translated Repent. The English word repent means to stop doing something naughty or nasty and get rid of your evil ways. But the word literally means in Greek – metanoia; to change your mind. Somewhere in your life we all have to have that experience. “The way I have seen it, I missed the point! That letting go, that changing our mind A Hah! This is what it means. That’s necessary to the experience of conversion. A lot of dogged & rigid people will refuse to change their minds. They will hold on to their childish understanding of God, their initial understanding of religion, or church, or scripture and frankly they never grow up. They can be sixty years old & still have an infantile notion of God & religion. Somewhere you have to grow-up & change your mind. I think it should read it as “Turn around” another way of translating ‘Metanoia” You have been doing this way and one day, by the grace of God you realize, “This hasn’t been getting me anywhere!” this hasn’t made me loving, happy, free, or alive. And you have to turn around 180 degrees. Actually this don’t just happen once in your lifetime. If you’re a person growing in grace it will happen every year, every few years, every month, I don’t know but Cardinal Newman said once, “People who are true Christians change, and are willing to change, people who are perfect Christians change often.” It is amazing that we have made religion into people who don’t change when in fact the very first statement Jesus says is, “Change your mind!” and then the final verse, “Then believe in the Good News!” We have heard this phrase so often all of our life and we don’t realize that an awful lot of us interpret the Gospel as “Bad News;” Basically, as a threat, a displeased God, an angry God. It was anything but Good News! It was Bad News. So with most people with that image of God, they kept their distance and maybe that is why our church is only half full. Because a lot of people just don’t believe it anymore. They don’t have any time to be shamed or being told how terrible they are. Most of us believe that enough already. We have to be told the “Good News!” That you are children of God and God is on your side. God does not love us because we are good. God loves us because God is Good. Nothing we can do will either decrease or increase God’s eternal & Infinite eagerness to love!
Now there seems to have been at least four men who believed this readily, at least the four men mentioned in the Gospel today. Let’s draw this together by noting what they had to leave. That they had to call into the question as Fr Ed preached about last week. Sisters and brothers, the thing that keeps most of us from the big picture is: and this is going to shock you & surprise you & maybe even disappoint you, is your group/family & your occupation. You notice that those are the two things they have to leave. Most people can’t think outside of their group circle and that keeps you very small, that isn’t the big Kingdom of God. That is the tiny kingdom of God. The way your group in Tuscarawas Valley of Ohio thinks, is the way I think. Well, as good as people from T County are, it’s still a pretty small world. PAUSE. You have to call that into question with its bias, assumptions, prejudices, fears, and angers. Every culture has to address this, we are no different. Most people will not leave their, father, Zebedee. Because what Dad says is right. Well maybe its right, maybe it’s wrong, maybe your dad is misinformed. If you’re not willing to call all that into question and have to go beyond this small world of prejudice, fear, and anger, of whatever it might be. But the other one is your occupation. It says twice that they left “Their Nets”. In other words whatever is paying your bills, is hard to call into question. I get it! Whatever is giving your livelihood and your security, usually most people will never question. If you’re in the military you never question the military. If you’re in banking, capitalism is wonderful. Whatever your job is you have to protect it. The four in the Gospel are asked to leave their jobs! Talk about letting go. Talk about walking on a new journey & turning around. Most of us are not that free. Now. I’m not telling you all, to leave your jobs tomorrow. But I am saying that very often that’s another little world and it keeps you little…..…… Unless you are willing to leave those smaller worlds you will never be able to recognize the greatness, the challenge, the wonder, and the demand of living the Big World. What Jesus calls the “Kingdom of God!”
To move beyond our small politics, our small economics, & say what would the world look like if we really put the word of God as the foundation of our lives. So we begin another year with beginning of Mark’s Gospel telling us all to turn around and believe the “Good News.”