1) Opening prayer
Father of love, hear our prayers.
Help us to know Your will
and to do it with courage and faith.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Mark 1:14-20
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel." As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." Then they left their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.
• After John had been arrested, Jesus went to Galilee. There He proclaimed the Gospel of God. John was arrested by King Herod for having denounced the immoral behavior of the King (Lk 3:18-20). The imprisonment of John the Baptist did not frighten Jesus! On the contrary, in that event He saw a symbol of the coming of the Kingdom. Today, would we know how to read the facts of politics and of urban violence to announce or proclaim the Good News of God?
• Jesus proclaimed the Good News of God. The Good News is of God not only because it comes from God, but also and, above all, because God is its content. God Himself is the greatest Good News for human life. He responds to the deepest aspiration of our heart. In Jesus, we see what happens when a human person allows God to enter and to reign. This Good News of the Kingdom of God proclaimed by Jesus has four different aspects:
a) The time is fulfilled and has arrived. For the other Jews the time was not as yet fulfilled, had not arrived. There was still much missing for the coming of the Kingdom. For the Pharisees, for example, the Kingdom could be attained only when the observance of the law would be perfect. Jesus had another way of reading the facts. He says that the time is fulfilled; it has arrived.
b) The Kingdom of God is close at hand! For the Pharisees the coming of the Kingdom depended on their efforts. It would have arrived only after they had observed the law. Jesus says the contrary: “The Kingdom is close at hand.” It is already here! When Jesus says, “The Kingdom is close at hand”, He does not mean to say that the Kingdom has been reached only at that moment, but rather that it was already there. What everybody was expecting was already present in their life, but they did not know it. They did not perceive it (cf. Lk 17:21). Jesus saw it! He saw and read reality from a different perspective. It is in this hidden presence of the Kingdom in the midst of the people that Jesus reveals Himself to the poor of His land. And this is the seed of the Kingdom which will receive the rain of His Word and the warmth of His love.
c) Convert yourselves! The exact meaning is “change your way of thinking and of living.” In order to be able to perceive the presence of the Kingdom in life, a person should begin to think and live in a different way. The person should change his or her way of life and find another way of living together with others! He/she should leave aside all of the legalism of the teaching of the Pharisees and allow the new experience of God to invade his/her life and give him/her a new way of looking so as to read and understand the facts in a new way.
d) To believe in the Good News! It was not easy to accept this message. It is not easy for us to begin to think in a different way from all that we have learned since we were small children. This is possible only through an act of faith. When someone gives a different piece of news, it is difficult to accept it, and it is accepted only if we trust the person who delivers the news. And thus, you will say to others, “You can accept! I know this person! This person does not deceive! You can trust him/her!” We can trust Jesus!
• The first objective of the proclamation of the Good News is to form a community. Jesus goes by; He sees and He calls. The first four who were called - Simon, Andrew, John and James - listen, abandon everything, and follow Jesus in order to form a community with Him. It seems to be love at first sight! According to Mark’s account, everything takes place in the first encounter with Jesus. Comparing with the other Gospels, people perceive that the four already knew Jesus (Jn 1:39; Lk 5:1-11). They had already had the opportunity to live with Him, to see Him help the people and to listen to Him in the synagogue. They knew how He lived and what He thought. The call was not something from one moment, but a progression of repeated calls and invitations, of progressing and retreating. The call begins and begins again always anew! In practice, it coincided with living together with Jesus for two or three years, since the time of the Baptism until the moment when Jesus ascended to Heaven (Acts 1:21-22). And then, why does Mark present this as something sudden, an act of love at first sight? Mark thinks of the ideal: the encounter with Jesus should bring about a radical change in our life!
4) Personal questions
• A political fact, the imprisonment of John, led Jesus to begin the proclamation of the Good News of God. Today, does the political situation exercise any influence in the proclamation of the Good News that we present to people today?
• “Repent! Believe in the Good News!” How is this taking place in my own life?
5) Concluding prayer
For You are Yahweh,
Most High over all the earth,
far transcending all gods. (Ps 97:9)