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Third Sunday,Ordinary,A,Jan.27,02.Mt.4:12-17

3rd Sun.Ord.A, Jan.27,02

Thomas Merton describes the call he received when he happened to enter a Catholic church in New York at the time when the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was concluding. These are his words: “I looked straight at the Host, and I knew, now, who it was that I was looking at, and I said: “ Yes, I want to be a priest, with all my heart I want it. If it is your will, make me a priest---make me a priest.” He knew it was a call that came to the depths of his being and that he could not resist it. He went all the way to accept that call, renouncing everything that he had in the world, joining a Trappist monastery.

In today’s Gospel we hear the call of all calls: Jesus calling the humble fishermen he saw around him, asking them to follow him. “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” No questions were raised by them, no doubts were clarified, no anxieties were shared: they left everything they had and followed Him. They were called to preach the gospel and continue his ministry, to call people to repentance and to announce that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. This is what Jesus said: “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Repentance is not a sudden effusion of emotion; it involves a change of heart, a conversion, and a new way of life. Jesus offers his listeners a new opportunity, an opportunity to return to the Lord. What is required from them is the rejection of a way of life that emphasizes self over God. They are given the opportunity to accept Him as the Savior of their lives.

Jesus will expand the meaning of this repentance, this conversion of the heart later in his ministry. In the Sermon on the Mount he explains what it means to take a new direction in life. Happiness and peace do not consist in accumulation of wealth nor in suppressing the rights of others. In tragedies, and sufferings, in patience and meekness, in peace-making and reconciliation, one will experience the presence of this new kingdom.

When his own people believed in the triumphant arrival of a king who would establish a new empire, Jesus presents before them an empire that will be built on the outstretched arms on a cross. To those who think that happiness can be found in the accumulation of wealth, Jesus preaches a new gospel: “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul.” It is to a life of total devotion and attachment to God that he calls his followers.

The meaning of the attachment is well brought out by St.Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians when Paul says that it is to Christ that we belong. No other person however great may be should stand in between Jesus and his disciples.

People often use different labels to describe different shades of opinion among Christians as if those labels and those shades of opinion are important. We have only one label and that is Christ. It is Christ and his image that we carry in our hearts. It is his message that we live by. It is in his death and Resurrection we find the hope of our life. Those words of St. Paul have to be repeated again and again in our lives: “ Is Christ divided?” just to remind us that it is not ideologies or shades of opinion that are important, but our decision to follow Jesus, to abjure the path of sin and to experience hope in his forgiveness.

Today, Like the disciples, like St. Paul, We shall say yes to Jesus, and follow him whatever may be the nature of circumstances or experiences we encounter in our lives. May the Lord guide us in the steps we take in our lives and may he give us the grace to be attached to him and to overcome the power of sin in our lives.

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