“Whatever I may have written, I think it all can be reduced in the end to this one root truth: that God calls human persons to union with himself and with one another in Christ, in the Church which is his Mystical Body. It is also a witness to the fact that there is and must be, in the Church, a contemplative life which has no other function than to realize these mysterious things, and return to God all the thanks and praise that human hearts can give him.” ~Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO
Monday, January 11 ~ First Week in Ordinary Time
Holy Gospel: 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.
Meditation: The word “gospel” literally means “good news.” What is the good news which Jesus delivers? It is the good news of peace (restoration of relationship with God), of hope (the hope of resurrection and heaven), of truth (God’s word is true and reliable), of promise (he rewards those who seek him), of immortality (God gives everlasting life), and the good news of salvation (liberty from sin and freedom to live as sons and daughters of God). In announcing the good news, Jesus made two demands: repent and believe. Repentance requires a life change, a change of our heart and our mind, sorrow for sin and its consequences, a hatred of sin, and a firm resolution to avoid sin in the future. The Lord gives us grace to see sin for what is really is — a rejection of his love and wisdom, and a refusal to do what is good and in accord with his will. His grace brings pardon and help for turning away from everything that would keep us from his love. To believe is to take Jesus at his word and to recognize that God loved us so much that he sent his only begotten Son to free us from bondage to fear and sin. God loves us so much that he made the supreme sacrifice of his Son on the cross to bring us back to himself.
Prayer: Attend to the pleas of your people with heavenly care, O Lord, we pray, that they may see what must be done and gain strength to do what they have seen. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: When Jesus preached the gospel message he called others to follow as his disciples and he gave them a mission – “to catch people for the kingdom of God.” What kind of disciples did he choose? Regular, ordinary people – in this particular case, fishermen. In the choice of the first apostles we see a characteristic feature of Jesus’ work: he chose very ordinary people, non-professionals, had no wealth or position. They were chosen from the common people who did ordinary things, had no special education, and no social advantages. Jesus wanted ordinary people who could take an assignment and do it extraordinarily well. He chose these individuals, not for what they were, but for what they would be capable of becoming under his direction and power. When the Lord calls us to serve, we must not think we have nothing to offer. The Lord takes what ordinary people, like us, can offer and uses it for greatness in his kingdom. Do you believe that God wants to work through and in you for his glory?