The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B - 22nd January, 2012

John was arrested; Jesus came to Galilee. The kingdom of God has drawn near. The disciples drop everything and follow him. Today’s gospel reading telescopes quite a few events into one narrative which is urgent and racing. This is the way the story is told by someone who has just witnessed an accident or by a child who has just discovered that Santa has come. Initially, at least, the important thing seems to be not so much the telling of the story as “the putting all of the main points onto the table”. The overall impression of such a tale is one of drama and intensity.

The hearers of Mark’s gospel knew what urgency and intensity were all about. Mark wrote his gospel for Christians living in Rome. In Rome the Christians were uncertain about their future. We are all familiar with the famous persecutions of Christians that happened at various times in and around Rome. The catacombs bear witness to the fact that even in death the Christians had to hide; they were buried underground so that Christians could gather at the tombs and celebrate eucharist there, without drawing potentially dangerous attention to themselves. People living in such an atmosphere get very accustomed to doing things quickly. They become familiar with cutting out the details and getting to the point of things.
However, this urgency is not just about self-protection. This urgency is also about not being able to wait. The early Christians had an excitement about their faith which we, generally, do not have.
We are, by and large, interested in our faith. We are willing to do our best to follow Jesus. We do not, however, have the same life or death urgency about our faith that was typical of the early Christians. 
Often, in fact, we will decide for ourselves what is important when it comes to following Jesus. This would not occur to Mark’s community. To decide what is important is the job of the leader, not the follower. There is no doubt for Mark’s community who that leader is – Jesus.
Today’s gospel, then, in a very concise way, reminds us of several important things. Jesus really came. He came just after John was arrested. His message was one of repentance for the kingdom of God which is very near. And, most importantly, it reminds us of the way to follow Jesus. Dithering, wondering, ifs, buts and maybes are not options. Jesus offers us the kingdom – it’s a take it or leave it offer. As they like to say on Flog-it, “going, going, gone”.

Article posted on 21st of January 2012

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