Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – It’s time to get with the program!

                Jesus did not exactly say this in the Gospel today, but it might be a good colloquial version of “This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the gospel.”  These are really the first spoken words of Jesus in Mark’s gospel which we will be hearing from on most Sundays this year. 

                Time is God’s gift to us.  Through it he allows us to change and to grow.  “Time of fulfillment” indicates that the time of waiting for God’s kingdom is up; it is here and now – at this very time.  Lately with the pandemic limitations, we probably have extra time on our hands, not that we haven’t found ways to waste it.  Let’s use some of God’s gift of time this week to reflect on what we heard in the Liturgy of the Word today.  The pagan people of Nineveh surprisingly repented of their sins and turned to God, after Jonah preached to them.  Four fishermen in Galilee dropped their nets and immediately followed Jesus when he called them.  Consider how God is calling you this week – to change something in your life and grow closer to Jesus, perhaps?  That would be using your time for spiritual gain.

And if you want to really get with the program, I might even suggest that you could take time to read the whole Gospel of Mark, straight through in a few hours or over a couple of days.  It’s not that long – only 16 chapters.  It will give you a different perspective of the gospel when you hear the whole public life of Jesus as a continuous story, instead broken into small segments for Sunday Mass. 



                Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has recently designated that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time would annually be observed as “The Sunday of the Word of God” throughout the entire Church.  His direction is that this Sunday “be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God”.  He suggests that the sacred text be enthroned at Mass in order to focus on the value of God’s word written and handed down to us from the scripture writers and the early Church.   The Pope wants us to appreciate the inexhaustible riches contained in the Bible, which is a real treasury of unfathomable riches given to us and to be proclaimed in our worship, to be read for our personal prayer, and to be lived in our daily life. 

                A practical outcome for this focus on the Bible by Pope would be to make sure that everyone of us has a personal copy of the Bible that we can use for study and prayer.  So it needs to be a size that we can handle, not a super large family bible for the coffee table.  It needs to have print large enough for you to read.  And preferably it should be the New American Bible, the Catholic Bible with the copyrights of 1970, 1986 and 1991.  This is the version that is used in our Lectionary for Sunday and weekday Masses.  Paperback editions work fine and actually let people feel more comfortable underlining or marking favorite passages for future reference.  You find good choices of Bible editions that are readily available at Catholic Supply in St. Louis and the Daughters of St. Paul store in Crestwood.