Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

To understand what today's Gospel says about gathering, we do need some background[1]. Perhaps you remember the three main places of the Geography of Faith: Egypt, the Desert and the Promised Land. From the humiliation and slavery of Egypt, God brings us into the Desert of Decision and then to our true home, the Promised Land[2].

Our Lord, as we see today, comes from the north –as a light into a place of darkness. He comes to reverse the Exile. He gathers the people - first the Jews, then the non-Jews. And how does Jesus gather people? Well, the first step in repentance. People lost the Promised Land because of sin: Instead of obeying God, they went after idols; for that reason Jesus says, “repent”, which means change your minds, turn back to God. Repent. That's the first step.

Then comes a second step. When Jesus sees Peter and Andrew, he looks them in the eye and says, “Follow me”. He needs help in gathering the people.

Most of you probably know that the name, Peter, means "rock." He is the rock on which Jesus builds his Church. But what about "Andrew"?  We need men like Andrew: husbands, fathers, hard-workers. We need people of all types –In all places - who hear Jesus say, Follow me, and we should never forget that Andrew has a brother, Peter. The successor of Peter is Pope Francis. He has an Apostolic Exhortation called, Evangelli Gauidum (The Joy of the Gospel)[3]. In it he speaks about God's desire to save every person and his plan for "gathering up all things in Christ." Then Pope Francis expresses his dream that the Church would embrace a "missionary impulse." Instead of focusing on "self-preservation," he says, we need to call people to "friendship with Jesus."

I share Pope Francis' dream. I dream that we will give Jesus first place in our lives. That we will hear him say, Follow me. And that we will do our part in gathering the people: Those who have become discouraged, those who have drifted from the faith. Families with small children, high school students and young adults. We have tough competition -a consumer society that promises fulfillment apart from God. Because of that false promise, many are falling into despair and misery. That's why we ask people, “Do you reject Satan? and all his works? And his empty promises?” at the celebration on the Sacrament of Baptism.

You and I can gather people; we have a role in the Big Story in the history of Salvation. If we take time for silence, for prayer, for Eucharistic adoration; if we repent and allow our Lord work through us, then by his power and his grace we can gather people. Jesus is the light for those living in darkness. Today he says, Follow me ■

[1] 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time A, January 26, 2014. Readings: Isaiah 8:23-9:3; Responsorial Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14.
1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17; Matthew 4:12-23.
[2] It is possible, however, to lose the Promised Land. That happens in 721 B.C. when Assyria overwhelms the Northern Kingdom and disperses the ten "lost tribes." We have a reference in the first reading: After the Exile, Gentiles (non-Jews) settle the Land of Zebulun and Napthali. The few Jewish people who remain in the north - and those move there, like Joseph and Mary - find themselves in a "land of gloom."

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris