As we mentioned at the beginning of mass today, this third Sunday in ordinary time has been established by His Holiness Pope Francis as the Sunday dedicated to the Word of God.
It is an event that will occur now every year going forward on the third Sunday of ordinary time.
The Holy Father’s intent captured in the document by which he established this day was to basically call us to become more familiar with the Word of God and to, in a sense, imbue ourselves with its wisdom.
But I think, be, and imbuing ourselves with its wisdom. He wants us to understand that the Word of God is a living reality and the living reality of the Word of God is Jesus Christ.
And so the word offers us an opportunity to be engaged with Jesus. An opportunity literally to encounter. She uses in conversation for it is through the Word of God that Jesus continues to speak to us through the power of the Spirit.
And so we come together, particularly each Sunday, and our liturgy is literally built around the Word of God. Matter of fact, if you think about it, when I announced to you the Word of God that we’re going to be reading you each hopefully follow a gesture that we learned from when we were little children.
Mm hmm. We mark our forehead with a cross. We mark our mouth with a cross, and we mark our heart with a cross.
Why do we do that? We do a lot of things. Sometimes I wonder if we ever stop to think about why we do the things we do.
Well, the idea is, again, that there’s a prayer that goes with that that hopefully is in our heads as we do that. And it is that the Word of God be on our mind, the Word of God be on our lips and the Word of God be in our heart. That, in effect, what we’re saying is what we’re going to hear. May it come to be a source of life in us. May it be what grounds us and what gives, in a sense, direction to our living.
That is beautifully captured in the scene from Mark’s Gospel.
The beauty of Mark’s gospel – Mark is not one who I know of over makes, overuse of words. He’s very precise and very stric,t in the sense of each word carries great significance.
And so you have in chapter one where he condenses a tremendous amount at the beginning of Jesus’s ministry. You have again, John the Baptist introducing Jesus. You have Jesus’s baptism. You have Jesus going for the desert to be tempted. We’ll hear that when we get to the first Sunday of Lent. And then you’ll have Jesus coming back from the desert. And beginning his public ministry and he begins it in Galilee by the Sea of Galilee.
And it begins it with the words, as we heard in today’s gospel, that the time of fulfillment is here.
Repent and believe the good news. Powerful.
A powerful invitation. Repent and believe the good news.
Why? Because the time of fulfillment is here.
And you heard references to time in both the first reading from Jonah as Jonah goes to Nineveh to announce to the people that in 40 days there will be great disaster unless they repent.
And the gospel of the scripture tells us that on hearing the Word of God through the Prophet Jonah, they immediately turn their lives around.
And they’re spared.
And then if you listen to the second reading Paul is telling us. But the time is near, the end is near, is what Paul is saying.
He was very conscious of the fact, at least in his thinking, that things would quickly come to their fulfillment in the sense of time would would reach its end, I hope.
Thank God he was wrong. And we’re still here today. And keep going.
But the point he was making, again, is that there is an awareness and awareness of time.
That is critical for those who are believers. And the awareness of time is not so much what’s on your arm or on your watch in the sense of your iPhone or anything like Alexa telling you what hour it is, what minute it is, what second it is. But time is an implication of where we are in God’s plan.
And so when Jesus says. The time of fulfillment is near.
Again, he’s pointing in Mark’s gospel. He’s pointing to the ultimate, which is his passion, death and resurrection. That final Passover, when we go from through his action, we go from our apartness with God. To our oneness with God. And so he’s saying, be aware, the time of fulfillment is near. Be aware the definitive moment when God will draw you in to into the fullness of God’s plan.
God’s plan is not that we separate be separated, but God’s plan is that we be at one with God in the mystery of God’s love, manifested again through the loving action of Jesus as he pours himself out on the cross and then opens the door to eternity through the resurrection.
And so what he’s saying again is this is the time.
How do you respond to it? You know, we’re very aware that time has impact on our life.
Sometimes we like to admit it, sometimes we don’t. As we reach a certain point in our life, we know it’s time to go to school. And initially, we don’t like that idea. Right. When you take him for kindergarten, he’s going to scream and holler and do all of those kinds of things. Act out, you know, and eventually he’ll adjust to it or she’ll adjust to it.
As you get to a different age, you begin to realize your independence.
And you start experimenting. Sometimes for your benefit, sometimes to your detriment.
As you move on in life, the time comes to settle down.
The time comes to make your way. And as time progresses.
As time progresses, you begin to see. But things are fading from view.
You don’t have the same skills, the same resources.
Sometimes – I had a conversation with Father Smith yesterday, it was funny.
He’d just come back and we’re sitting there talking. And it took me probably a good 20 minutes to remember the name of a person that I was trying to refer to in conversation with him.
It happens frequently. We list them as “senior moments”.
But the reality is it’s another sense of time, the time that I’m entering, the time that some of you are entering, that time when in a sense we begin to prepare more aware of the limitations that are with us and time.
So the scripture is saying, Time, in this sense, a tool that God gives you to recognize where you are, but recognizing that in every moment of time the invitation is the same. It’s the invitation. To repent. And to believe the good news is the invitation to continually be turning your life ever more into the hands of the one who is the good news, Jesus Christ. With the sincere hope, that as that progresses, as that moves forward, Time will show us, by all words and most importantly, by our actions how literally we are alive in the Word of God.
We are alive in Jesus Christ. And more in more conforming ourselves to his way, which instructs us by the word for the Word of God. aNot only introduces us to Jesus, connects us to Jesus, but the Word of God gives direction to our living.
Because it shows us teaches us what it means to live in Jesus.
And so as we come to this Sunday, we give thanks that the Holy Father is giving us this opportunity to become more sensitive to the Word of God.
And we recognize then the opportunity is the parish is offering the Smith and his goodness
has put together many opportunities for people of the parish to grow in the Word of God.
I mean, one of the things. Every Sunday at five o’clock, there is the opportunity to enter in to the scripture study.
That awareness, that breaking open of the Word of God.
And he has other plans for Bible study and things like that that he hopes to be introducing in the very near future.
But we don’t have to wait for those things. One of the things that we can each do on our own.
It’s open up our Bibles. You know, those amazes me again, how many of us have Bibles in our homes?
Maybe they were given to us on the occasion of a marriage or some other event in our life.
And aren’t they great dust collectors? Many times we have them still in the box that they were given to us.
Or perhaps we put them out in a place of display.
But the challenge. Just to open them up. To begin, in a sense, to use them for our daily prayer.
And one of the suggestions is we’re going to we’re reading the gospel of Mark.
We’ll be reading the gospel of Mark throughout the remainder of this liturgical year.
You get snippets when you come on Sunday, have a little bit, three verses, four verses.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful? If you could place those verses that you listen to on Sunday, if you could place them in the context of all of Mark’s gospel. So maybe one of the challenges that we want to present you with on this particular Sunday at the Word of God.
The challenge is to make it a goal for this year to read – and to reread and to reread – the Gospel of Mark, so that when we hear those verses proclaim at our Sunday liturgies, we can say, oh, OK, that’s the point in Mark’s gospel when Jesus is doing this. And this is what Mark is intending, because I now see it in the context of his whole gospel.
Believe me when I tell you it will change your life if you do that.