Evangelical Reflections – Sermon Sunday, January 21, 2024

Evangelical Reflections – Sermon Sunday, January 21, 2024

Dear brothers, peace and goodness.

Today's Gospel is the announcement of the beginning of something new. It is new for several reasons. It sounds different after the preparatory words of John the Baptist.

The truth is that Israel did not hear the voice of God expressed in the prophets. Neither before nor after the Baptist. But the people of Nineveh, despite the hesitation with which Jonah speaks – in fewer words that cannot be said, after the fear of the ship in which he escaped and its sinking – they change, repent, and turn to God, from the time of kingship to the end. Of servants. It is clear that the children of Israel were clumsy in understanding the prophets. They were blocked, their hearts closed. Some pagans, not so much.

What happened to Jonah can often happen to us. Many imagine God as a harsh and vengeful judge, punishing the wicked with heavenly lightning and rewarding the good. Seeing that God is merciful, he changed his mind when the people of Nineveh repented and did not obtain the approval of the Prophet. He forgot that the God of Jesus was not what he wanted. He is a God who has no enemies, but rather prodigal children. He searches for them and draws them with His love, so that they will no longer sin and be holy, that is, happy.

Like Jonah, Saint Paul devoted himself to the things of God. He was a person who highly valued everything human. He was concerned about family relationships, the situation of children, slaves, and women…but he was even more concerned about relationships with God. What Paul wants is for believers to appreciate the realities of the world for what they are: important, yes, but not eternal. The danger of these worldly truths is that they become absolute. They are no longer useful temples, but have become idols, distracting man's heart from God, and making him lose the meaning of life. Because everything is relative to God. Even the most popular. eye. And no one is free from these acts of worship.

We bid farewell to John the Baptist, the last great prophet of the Old Testament, who disappears from the scene. And Jesus takes over, starting in a completely new way. Yes, he calls for conversion, but he gives “good news.” It is not a threatening tone, but a happy tone. We hear Jesus' first statement: “The time has come, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” In that sentence, he sums up his entire message.

Because the time has come: we no longer have to wait for any more signs or answers from heaven. Now, today, in this moment, God's presence comes into action in the midst of our world, in the midst of our lives, in the midst of our things. God is no longer present only in the temple: He walks in our paths, in our lakes, and among our networks. Therefore, we can know and feel God's accompaniment every day and every minute.

God has already begun to do His work: God has begun to transform this world into another world, which is the Kingdom of God. He is not waiting for something in the afterlife, but rather “going beyond” the way things have always been. It is the discovery that God the Father intervenes to demonstrate the power of His love, preferences, and dreams for our world.

To be part of this kingdom, you must have faith. This is what prompts a person to repent, knowing that the change will be for the better, to become a better person. Saint John Bosco said: “Being good does not mean never doing anything wrong, but knowing how to fix it.” Keep believing, even though you fall.

Conversion does not only mean trying to live as God wants, but it also means changing the way we see God, man, the world, and even history. Remember, God is a good Father, not a just judge. This treats everyone equally, no matter how we love them. For Mark, the news of the arrival of the Kingdom of God is presented as a hopeful news. Everyone can accept this invitation to conversion. Even the world's largest comet. Because for God, this inherent sinner is also His Son.

It is Jesus who chooses his helpers. It wasn't usual. The rabbinical disciples chose their own teacher. It seems that Jesus' look had something that dazzled and awakened faith and confidence. I looked at you and changed you. It was a look of hope and love. It was a look that said, “I know you, I need you, I want you to be part of this kingdom-building project.”

why me? The chooser feels that there are no reasons for this choice. Jesus is not looking for people who are good, obedient, and likeable. He does not go to the temple or temples. He goes to the Lake of Galilee. Look for people in the midst of their daily activities. And he invites. “Why don't you leave what you're doing, your usual places, your usual colleagues, your usual schedules…, and come do something else? We'll spend time, work, and energy on people. Let others take care of the fish and nets. You and I will do something better.”

All of this takes a backseat, because a decision must be made. Jesus already said it at the beginning: They were guided and believed in the good news. This means: one cannot remain indifferent to this urgent call. And now, today, on this Sunday: Come walk with me on the paths of the Gospel. but now? Yes, there is no delay. He is not interested in those who want all kinds of explanations before leaving “their fish and boats.” And you don't need those who keep looking back. He also did not want to know anything about those who imposed conditions on him: “Let me first go to…». This means: You cannot let this day pass without giving a serious and definitive answer. Everything must be sacrificed if it is an obstacle to the new life to which Christ is calling you.

It is about working on the same thing that Jesus worked on: making this world different, in which there is more brotherhood, more justice, more peace, more clean hearts, more tolerance, more service, more generosity, more bread For everyone, and more… We could add more things, but I think that's enough for today. A compelling invitation to do things differently, with others and always in the company of Jesus. Please, let us not think that this Gospel is specifically aimed at “priests, nuns or monks.” These are ways of responding that some will feel called to. But they are certainly not the only ones. Each one has his mission in the church. This gospel is directed directly at you, asking you to “move on”, to leave the beach, the nets and the usual boats. Ask God to teach you His ways, as we repeated in the Psalm. Because they are the paths of peace, joy and salvation.

Your brother in faith Alejandro CMF

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