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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Preparing for Sunday

Sunday Liturgy is important and when we prepare ahead of time we appreciate it more and profit spiritually from our reflections made ahead of time. For the past few years I have had a faculty faith-sharing group that meets in my office and we prepare the next Sunday's Gospel together. It has not only been life-giving, but has made the Liturgy more meaningful for me. Now I am going to try to do something of the same at the suggestion of a dear friend in Scotland. She made me aware, too, of a great website at St. Louis University, the very University where I studied for my master's and my doctorate in historical theology. Here is the link: and I shall try to put it on the right side so you can just click on it. I think it will help you to prepare for Sunday's Liturgy. I will also try putting a brief reflection of my own each Thursday.

The Responsorial Psalm 25:4-5,6-7,8-9 has the refrain, "Teach me your ways, O Lord."
That is a good phrase to take as the theme of the Liturgy today. The Gospel is from Mark 1:14-20 where Jesus has begun his preaching and is seen choosing his first apostles. Mark tells us that it is only after John had been arrested that Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." I had a professor in a New Testament course who told us that those last six words were the message that Jesus set out to preach and therefore very important. I think the six words that precede them are just as important. The fact is that Jesus was now aware of his mission and goes to seek others to help him.
As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.'"
The essential thing to note is that Jesus not only called them, but they immediately abandoned their nets and followed him. John and James will do the same. Is Jesus still calling us to leave all and follow him? I think so and wrote about this a short time ago when we had this same Gospel on January 12. Now it is back as a Sunday Gospel so that we will see the importance of listening to Jesus and having the courage to leave all and follow him. It does take courage; to abandon one's way of life and follow Jesus means that we have learned to trust him. This was not the first encounter with the Lord. Andrew and John had followed him before and stayed with him that day and then told their brothers about him. Still, it seems rather a dramatic call and leave-taking, but Mark wants to impress us with the whole mission of Jesus. We pray then Teach me your ways, O Lord. Help us to realize that the Kingdom of God is at hand and that we need to repent and believe in the Good News!

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