January 11, 2021
by Chas Kestermeier, S.J.
Creighton University's English Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 305

Hebrews 1:1-6
Psalm 97:1-2, 6-7, 9
Mark 1:14-20

Celebrating Christmas

This passage from Mark’s Gospel follows his presentation of John the Baptist, John's ministry, Christ's Baptism, and the time Christ spent in the desert discerning what it all meant – and all of this in his first 13 verses...

Christ’s beginning His ministry here is very different from the story of His attempting to begin it in Luke (2:41-52): there He was at the center of Judaism, the Temple, surrounded by priests and scribes but with no mention of the Father and the Holy Spirit.  After His mother’s rebuke He returned home for more obedience and a "quiet" life: growth in age, wisdom, and grace, and He learned the common touch, His ability to offer a concrete and forceful teaching to real people, not merely commenting on the Law for the Temple cadre.

Here in Mark Christ is as far from the Temple as He can get, out in the desert with a weirdo who offers a non-official liturgical rite blessed by the presence of the Father and the Spirit, and Jesus then begins His work with a message which, as Mark reports it, is not that much different from the Baptist's.  The difference is that Jesus leaves the Jordan, doesn't baptize, and actively recruits people to help in his ministry. 

Today is the first day of “ordinary time” after Advent, the birth of Christ, and all the subsequent feasts, and with Christ we now enter the world of everyday.  Jesus here calls some men to accompany Him more closely, to eventually become His “disciples” (students) and even His “apostles” (envoys), and He similarly calls each and every one of us to be just those people, at least as His companions and hopefully as those who learn from Him as disciples.

And like the disciples, we are to follow Jesus and let Him (and His Spirit!) forge us into fishers of men as well – and this is not instead of who and what we have been but the same individuals with the difference of a new Spirit within.  We remain mothers and fathers, workers with white collars and blue collars, older and younger, of any color and race, but we become most radically true brothers and sisters, caring for each other with Christ’s love for us, a love that we share with them. 

Our daily reality becomes new for us in Christ, a place of meaning in place of the boredom, loneliness, and fundamental frustration that the pagan and worldly must cope with.  We already live in Christ’s new creation, with a depth that wasn't there before Christ called us, and we realize that we are not vessels of clay but of glory in what Christ asks us to bear in these transformed vessels.

God is very much here with us in our daily routines and the people we meet every day; let us pray that we accompany Christ faithfully as He Himself works with all of that.

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