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The Good News for the Day, January 21, 2018

The Third Sunday of Ordinary time (68)

After John got detained, Jesus came back to Galilee proclaiming Good News about God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Good News!” Jesus was walking along by the Sea of Galilee, when he saw Simon and Andrew, his brother, casting their nets into the sea. (They were fishermen.) Jesus said to them, “Come along with me, and I will make you fishers of men.” So then, they left their nets and started to follow him. He walked along a little farther—saw James, Zebedee’s son, and his brother John. They were in a boat, too—mending their nets. He called them next. They left their father Zebedee in the boat (along with the hired men) and came after him. (Mark 1)

To these men, Jesus did not say “Repent!” as we use that word. He was using a word in language familiar to Jews from their history—frequent in their Scriptures—for a common feeling-and-act we feel today, one that we talk about often enough: changing your mind/opening your heart. He said something closer to: “Change your ways!”

To the fishermen Jesus met that day, the word meant to start a new way of life, to start living differently. It was that meaning which made these men abandon their jobs. Jesus was calling to their conscience because they were just “living and partly living,” drifting along pushed by culture. The word Jesus was using implies you feel some shame or embarrassment and want to fix it; you regret hurting someone—but it is much deeper than just that. Something profound awakens in you—your whole self chooses a different direction in every sense of the word—you direct your sight differently, look outward, your heart opening, your mind becoming childlike.

Over thousands of years, that word has come to be just a religious one, associated with church rituals of confession and Lent. To the people Jesus was talking to, though, it was as though He was saying. “If you feel restless, wake up! If you feel bad about damaging someone, do something about it! If you feel regret, you can change that! If you have neglected growing and living for God—now is the time!”

It was to that call for change that these men responded—a wake-up call to their conscience. From this authentic, humble fellow man, they heard a request from God.

You are called Now. You and I today are hearing it in this tale about Simon Peter and Andrew, about James and John—and you. This is Good News! It is time (kairos)!

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