"This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."
Today we begin the Season of Ordinary Time. In this sense, Ordinary does not mean "common." The root of the word comes from "ordinal," so that it literally means "counted time." This is the season of the church year that is counted or marked week by week for a period of time after Advent and before Lent and from the end of the Easter Season until the end of the Church year. It is the time of the year, through the three Sunday cycles and the two daily cycles of the readings we get our biggest nourishment of scripture over a three year period.
Today we begin reading the story of Hanna from the First Book of Samuel. We begin reading from Mark's Gospel. It is wonderful to see Jesus begin his public ministry so boldly. "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."
The story begins with the call of the first disciples. It is remarkable that Jesus doesn't seem to even consider doing his work alone. He has the power of God behind him. Nature and the evil spirits obey him. It is clear that from the beginning Jesus needed disciples. He needed people who would be with him and would be drawn into his ministry and be able to witness to it. Most of all, as we'll see in Mark's account of the story, he needed disciples that he could instruct in his very different way of being Messiah. They would learn that he would lay down his life, according to the Father's will. They would learn that to be his disciples they, too, would have to take up their cross and follow him. They learned that the very nature of being disciple was to be servant of all.
The first step was for them to lay down their nets, their ways of living their lives, and trust him. If they were to gather people to Jesus they would do it in a completely new way, which he would teach them.
For us, this begins our journey in this time after Christmas and before Lent. It is a great time to be renewed in our call to follow Jesus and to listen carefully to how he will show us how to follow him. For today, there are things we must leave behind if we are to follow Jesus completely and freely. We can't say "yes" and keep doing everything the same way. What is it that stands in the way of my following Jesus more completley, as one who needs a savior, as one who is being asked to be a servant, and give my life away?
It is a good day to speak to our Lord about this invitation, friend to friend.
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