Fr. Philip Allen, OSM was a wonderful priest of the English Province of Servites. He was a good brother of the Order and a brilliant scholar. Phil had a wonderfully British sense of humor and way with words. For example, he concluded each feast or celebration or any event of the day with: “Well, there you have it, that was your _____ , hope you liked it! We’ll do it again next year! ”
So, in his spirit, “Well, there you have it, that was your Christmas, I hope you liked it. We’ll do it again next year!”
Advent begins the Liturgical Year, the Christmas Season follows, and now we have begun the season called “Ordinary Time.” Ordinary Time began on the Monday after the Baptism of the Lord (January 13, 2020 this year) as it does each year with a reading of the Gospel of St. Mark 1:14-20. The passage states the Gospel itself: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” The presence of the Kingdom of God is THE Gospel that Jesus preached. When he preached in parables, he preached, “The Kingdom of God is like – a shepherd who left ninety-nine sheep and searched for one that was lost, like a person who found a treasure and bought the whole field, a son who sinned and was forgiven, like a feast that does not end.” Miracles happen in the presence of the Kingdom of God, people pause and scratch their heads: “This is not ordinary. There is nothing ordinary about the Kingdom of God. God’s Kingdom turns the ordinary on its head.”
Jesus called busy fishermen, busy accountants, and a cast of unknown others to follow him. Changing the direction of their lives, they gave up what was ordinary and followed him. They must have had a desire for deep change, with faith their hearts were converted away from the world toward the Kingdom of God. Listening to his teaching, they were disciples. Going out on mission, they became apostles. They came to him to be in a “divine relationship”, they learned from him and went out as missionary disciples often to their own death rather than denying friendship with Jesus.
Reread the Gospel passage; Mark 1:14-20. Meditate on the message of Jesus, the itinerate preacher. Meditate on Jesus’ action of calling disciples. Follow the response of those busy fishermen. Note carefully that the Gospel is a proclamation. The proclamation demands a response. Psst: all proclamations demand a response. The red light – either on the traffic control pole in front of you or on the police car behind you demands a response. “Sale”, “help”, “come home” all demand a response.
Meditate on the Gospel itself; enter into a new or renewed relationship with Jesus. Believe his teaching. Take a leap of faith and put your belief into action with the community of St. Juliana, your family, your work, your social life, and your school. Invite someone else to experience your faith journey.
St. Juliana parish is your primary faith community. Each week you hear and see the many proclamations of our parish and school, which are invitations for you to act. Might I encourage you to consider the invitation of Mr. James Abowd last week to change your life and the life of this parish community by participating in a new way this year? Might I encourage you to consider the invitation of Mr. Adam Ybarra to belong to his Bible Study or activity as a missionary disciple? I encourage you to consider your response to the Sunday collection basket. I encourage you to participate in the monthly twenty-four hours of prayer before the Exposed Blessed Sacrament to pray with Jesus and his community. I encourage you to attend the School Gala on February 8th and meet others in our community. Won’t you give time or talent to the Fall Festival being planned for next Fall? Will you participate in the St. Vincent DePaul or bereavement ministries? Participate in St. Juliana faith formation opportunities and bring someone with you. Life is anything but ordinary when we all come together to participate in the Kingdom of God at St. Juliana Community.
The times they are a changin’. The community is a changin’ when you participate fully. Your life can be a changin’ when your response to the Gospel is “YES” intentional and directed to the Kingdom of God.
Well, there you have it! That’s your invitation to change the ordinary in your life to the extra-ordinary of living the life of the Gospel. Come, follow Jesus with us. Reform your life and believe in the Good News. Bring someone who might not participate otherwise with you. Let’s do it new this year.