Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A  

January 22, 2023. The arrest of John the Baptist, mentioned at the beginning of today’s Gospel, was a pivotal moment for Jesus.  It was the moment for Him to fully begin His mission.   

Saint Matthew tells us that when Jesus hears this news, He moves from His small hometown of Nazareth to the more cosmopolitan city of Capernaum located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.  

It is there He officially calls His first Apostles. Peter, Andrew, James, and John had all met Jesus before, when they were still disciples of John the Baptist. 

  • John had pointed Him out to them.  
  • They had observed Him.   
  • They were starting to get to know Him. 

But Jesus is not going to leave it there.  Jesus has more to show and teach them, and more for them to do

He calls them and invites them to help build His Kingdom. 

Jesus doesn’t start His mission alone, and He doesn’t continue it alone.  His work began with the help of these chosen apostles, and He continues His work – today – through us.  

It is interesting how Jesus issues this invitation. 

  • The Apostles are in the water on their fishing boats, in the middle of their work, their family business. 
  • Jesus comes to meet them there.  
  • He walks to the shoreline. 
  • He enters into their world 
  • He walks into their everyday lives. 

But why? 

  • Jesus could have dropped by their houses after work. 
  • He could have spoken to them after Saturday services the synagogue. 
  • He could have met them in town on their day off. 
  • That would have been easier on them – less of an interruption, less of an inconvenience. 

But He doesn’t. 

He wants to be part of their lives. He doesn’t want to be on the fringe.  He wants to be involved. 

He deals with us the same way.  

  • He is always coming out to meet us, walking along the shoreline of our lives. 
  • He is always thinking of us, watching us, and calling out to us through our prayer, His Word, the Sacraments, and the Church.   
  • He wants us to follow Him more closely today than yesterday, more passionately tomorrow than today. 
  • We just need to listen, to pay attention. 
  • To leave behind our nets, and things stuck in them that distract us or preoccupy us.  We need to leave behind our boats – the stuff in our lives that carries us or pull us in the wrong direction. 
  • To leave behind anything and everything that hinders us from hearing and heeding the call of our Lord. 

Life happens, doesn’t it?  We have good intentions.  We want to follow completely.  But we lose focus.  We get busy.  We even get tired. Sometimes we miss Jesus walking towards, calling us.  We miss opportunities to follow Him.   

Here’s a suggestion that helps to reminds us to drop our nets – to stop, look, and listen for Jesus.  

My fourth grade teacher was Sister Alice Anne.  And like in any classroom at the time – there were different jobs that are assigned to the students.  Somewhere more glamorous than others:  In those days, erasing the chalk board, clapping the erasers outside the building, or the really high ranking ones like being the ones to turn out the lights and closing the widows during a fire-drill.    

But there was one job that was extremely important – very high profile. It was passed to different student each day.  You couldn’t wait to until it was your day to do it.    

Sister had a small bell that you kept on your desk for that day.  And with your eye on the classroom clock – when the minute hand stuck the top of the hour – you would ring that bell and say:  Pardon me Sister, pardon me class.  It’s time to bless the hour.   

And then together, we would pray: Another hour of my life has passed, to thee dear Jesus, I commend my last. 

That interruption to rhythm of the school day – taught us to stop, look, and listen to God.    

What if – and maybe it won’t be or can’t be every hour on the hour – but whenever and wherever we hear a church bell, or clock chime, or even a reminder on our phones or watches, we pause – and allow God to interrupt whatever we are doing.   

When we here that bell, chime, or ding – to pause and allow Jesus to interrupt our day.  To offer a little prayer – offering Jesus that part of our day.   To stop, look, and listen to the one who calls us to follow Him. 

Reverend Neil S. Sullivan