Father Howard Hansen’s Reflections
for The Third Week in Ordinary Time 2011
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 23, Mt. 4: 12-23
The Gospel for this Third Sunday of Ordinary Time is divided into two parts: the nearness of God’s reign and Jesus’ calling the first disciples. In this homily we are going to focus on the second section, Jesus calling the Twelve, and we do so because this applies to us also.
One of the first words I recall learning in Latin 1 was the word “discipulus” which is translated to mean a pupil or student in English. A disciple is one who is learning how to do this or that. The disciple of Jesus is learning how to be his follower, what this involves, what they are to do and so forth. Being a disciple is a learning experience and one that never ends.
Discipleship is not merely an intellectual thing. We are not out to get an A in a course. Jesus invites us to follow him actively. We are called to the same mission as that of Christ, we too are sent by the Father. We learn the values of Jesus, make progress in acquiring them in our own lives and, having done that, we share them with others for their improvement and happiness. Being a disciple of Jesus is a personal thing as well as a sharing the experience with others. In a sense, we are both disciple and teacher.
Discipleship with Christ is primary. It doesn’t take a back seat to anything else, not even to our closest personal relationships. Jesus tells us in the Gospel that it is the one who does his will who is mother, father, brother and sister to me. Doing his will comes first, is primary, and then the other relationships follow. And we should be aware that this arrangement does no harm to the other relationships I have. It only makes them better.
There is a totality in being a disciple. He/she gives themselves wholly to Christ and his way, truth and life. It has always been amazing to me how the Twelve, upon being called by Jesus, dropped everything they were doing and followed him immediately. James and John even left their father, Zebedee, standing all alone with all the work to do. There was no preparation for all of this either. Jesus came, called, the Twelve followed, and that was it.
I just know that all of us try our best to be good and true disciples of the Lord but we always remain defective disciples. The other things, activities, and so on, of life get in the way all the time. They become blocks to our being better disciples. Today’s Gospel is good for us to reflect upon. What do I need to become the disciple of Jesus I would hope to be and that he would have me be? What is blocking me from doing this?
Monday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time
Jan. 24, Mark 3: 22-30
“But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of everlasting sin.”
Today’s Gospel makes mention of the so-called “unforgiveable sin.” It is not unforgiveable because of God’s doing, but from our own doing. We make it unforgiveable ourselves. We said in yesterday’s Gospel on discipleship that the true disciple makes the values of Jesus his/her own. We said that discipleship is an active thing. The disciple does what he/she believes. With regard to their sins, the true disciple knows that all they have to do is seek forgivness and it will be theirs. God forgives the wrongs of the disciple and the disciple, in turn, is to forgive those who harm him/her. But the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, the one who shows contempt or lack of reverence and belief for God, never desires forgiveness, does not ask for it because he/she denies the one who gives it, and therefore the sin remains unforgiveable.
As Pogo once said, “We have found the enemy and he/she is us.”
Tuesday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time
Jan. 25, Mark 16: 15-18
Today’s Gospel reminds me once again of last Sunday’s homily on discipleship. True disciples are going to take the Gospel message and proclaim it to every creature, proclaim it to the world. We have talked about this many times before. The People of God are the people of the whole world. We are all together in the same boat. If one sinks, all sink. We are, as Vatican II tells us, in collegiality with one another. And the true disciple will keep this whole Church in mind and prays for it.
There are some strange words toward the end of this Gospel concerning those who believe. The Gospel tells us, “These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents in their hands and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
My Commentary on the New Testament says this, “The power to “tread on serpents” is mentioned in Luke (10: 19), but not the power to pick them up. The power to “drink any deadly thing” without harm is nowhere in the New Testament. (And when those words have been taken literally, they have caused death). In no Gospel does Jesus advocate the seeking of signs.” A word to the wise is sufficient. It goes on to say: “Those signs, etc., here are found in the so-called longer ending of the Gospel of Mark. Sometime after Mark completed his Gospel, three anonymous authors offered other endings to it.”
All of this, of course, causes problems to arise among scholars that we do not have the time or space to discuss here. I refer any interested reader to a good Commentary on the Scriptures for further information.
Wednesday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time
Jan. 26, Mark 4: 1-20
Today’s Gospel presents to us the parable of the Sower. “A sower went out to sow.” When one checks out this parable in the various Commentaries, the explanations of the parable and the interpretations are many. I guess each of us has to ask ourselves what the parable means to me. What do I get out of it? Sometimes I ask myself after reading it how well I listen to what God tells me, speaks to me, in the many different ways he communicates with me.
Today when I saw this parable pop up for the Gospel reading, I thought of my gifts and talents.
What gifts has God given to me for others and how am I doing with this?
Where do I need to improve?
Do I see any selfishness creeping into my relationships with others?
Is it ever all about me?
How well are my gifts and talents fulfilling their purpose for others?
Have God’s gifts to me landed on fertile soil?
All of this makes for a fine meditation on today’s Gospel.
Thursday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time
Jan. 27, Mark 4: 21-25
“To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
Let’s say that someone is a really good golfer. He shoots in the neighborhood of par all the time. Then, because of an injury, he has to stop playing the game for a year. Then he starts it up again — and now, after the lay-off, he finds that he is really just a duffer. His fine game has left him. And if he stops for a longer and longer time, he will lose it all.
The same thing happens in our spiritual life. If all of the sudden, for one reason or another, I cease to be caring, compassionate, forgiving, serving, etc., I will lose those gifts if I keep this up. The old adage that practice makes perfect is pretty true most of the time. In order to possess a gift, I have to continue to use it. Otherwise I will lose my grip on what I really want to have.
Does any of this ring a bell with you and your gifts or talents?
This makes for another fine meditation for out quiet time today.
Friday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time
Jan. 28, Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas
Today the Church celebrates the feast day of one of the greatest theologians ever in the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas. Thomas entered the Dominican Order in 1243. After professing his vows, he studied at Cologne under St. Albert the Great. Thomas was nicknamed the “dumb ox” because of his quiet ways and huge size, but in reality he was a brilliant student. Later he studied in Parish and received the doctorate in Theology.
Thomas was a good writer and his greatest work was the “Summa Theologica” which was the standard theology text in seminaries up to 1965 and Vatican II. Thomas died in 1274 and was canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius V in 1323.
St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
Saturday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time
Jan. 29, Mark 4: 35-41
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus and his disciples are in their boat crossing the Sea of Galilee and a storm comes up. Jesus was sleeping in the rear of the boat. Pretty soon the storm gets serious and the boat started to fill with water. The Apostles became frightened and finally woke Jesus and asked him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Jesus woke up and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and it was calm. Then Jesus asked his disciples, “Why are you terrified? Do you not have any faith?”
How do I manage to calm things in the spiritual storms of my own life?
How do I help others to do the same?
Do I bring the matter up to Jesus?
What are the results?