Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – A


Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”


Prayer of Charles de Foucauld


I abandon myself into your hands;

do with me what you will.

Whatever you may do, I thank you:

I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me

and in all your creatures.

I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:

I offer it to you

with all the love of my heart,

for I love you, Lord,

and so need to give myself,

to surrender myself into your hands

without reserve,

and with boundless confidence,

for you are my Father.


Almighty ever-living God,

direct our actions according to your good pleasure,

that in the name of your beloved Son

we may abound in good works.

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.



Is 8:23-9:3

First the Lord degraded the land of Zebulun

and the land of Naphtali;

but in the end he has glorified the seaward road,

the land west of the Jordan,

the District of the Gentiles.

Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness:

for there is no gloom where but now there was distress.

The people who walked in darkness

have seen a great light;

upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom

a light has shone.

You have brought them abundant joy

and great rejoicing,

as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,

as people make merry when dividing spoils.

For the yoke that burdened them,

the pole on their shoulder,

and the rod of their taskmaster

you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.


CCC 712 The characteristics of the awaited Messiah begin to appear in the “Book of Emmanuel” (“Isaiah said this when he saw his glory,”1 speaking of Christ), especially in the first two verses of Isaiah 11:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,

and a branch shall grow out of his roots.

And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,

the spirit of wisdom and understanding,

the spirit of counsel and might,

the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.2

1 Jn 12:41; cf. Isa 6-12.

2 Isa 11:1-2.


“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” Before the coming of Christ 98 per cent of the human race lived in the darkness and hopelessness of paganism. They knew nothing of the good God who made them; they knew nothing of their real purpose in this life, and did not know that there was a future life to look forward to. The two percent, or less, of Jews had a knowledge of the true God. But it was a limited knowledge and their service of him was motivated by fear rather than by love. Their belief in a future, endless life was weak in the best of them, and was not accepted at all by many.

The Incarnation has changed all that. The darkness of paganism, and ignorance of the true nature of the God who created us, has been banished forever by the coming of the Son of God among us as man. From it we have learned not only that God loves us, and that he is interested in every one of us, but that he loves us with an infinite, unlimited love, and wants each one of us to share in his own eternal kingdom of happiness forever. For this reason he has raised us up to adopted sonship, through the Incarnation in which his real Son took on himself our lowly created nature and became our brother.

This was God’s plan for mankind for all eternity. Sin had entered the world of men in the meantime. Man became so proud of the gifts he possessed, that he forgot the giver of those gifts, and not only refused to thank his benefactor, but turned against him and made for himself false gods. This, however, did not change God’s plan nor his infinite love for man. Christ, the son of God in our human nature, was the representative of all men. He gave perfect obedience to his heavenly Father in the name of us all. Because he was God, as well as man, he made a perfect atonement for the sins of all men, of all time. No mere human being could ever have done this.

We, Christians today, are walking in the full light of the knowledge of God’s infinite love for us, of God’s eternal plan for our unending happiness, of the almost incredible mystery of that divine love for us sinners, which was shown in the Incarnation. If an earthly king should leave his palace, and go among his peasants, and dress and live like one of them, in order to educate them and clothe them in royal robes, and then bring them to his palace to live with him as his adopted children, what an amazing act of benevolence and love this would be. Yet, the Creator of all things, the King of the universe, did this and more for us.

Does anyone among us really appreciate what God has done for him? Does he realize what the privilege of being a Christian means? Does he ever thank God sufficiently for the benefits he has conferred on him? We have all seen the great light which expelled all darkness. We are living under its heavenly illumination. But are we all benefiting from that light as we should? Will it lead us to the eternal, everlasting light–the purpose for which it was given to us?

This is a question each one of us must ask himself today, and the future fate of every one of us will depend on the answer we can honestly give to this question.


PS 27:1, 4, 13-14

The Lord is my light and my salvation.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;

whom should I fear?

The LORD is my life’s refuge;

of whom should I be afraid?

The Lord is my light and my salvation.

One thing I ask of the LORD;

this I seek:

To dwell in the house of the LORD

all the days of my life,

That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD

and contemplate his temple.

The Lord is my light and my salvation.

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD

in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD with courage;

be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.

The Lord is my light and my salvation.




1 COR 1:10-13, 17

I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

that all of you agree in what you say,

and that there be no divisions among you,

but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.

For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters,

by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you.

I mean that each of you is saying,

I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,”

or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.”

Is Christ divided?

Was Paul crucified for you?

Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel,

and not with the wisdom of human eloquence,

so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.


CCC 489 Throughout the Old Covenant the mission of many holy women prepared for that of Mary. At the very beginning there was Eve; despite her disobedience, she receives the promise of a posterity that will be victorious over the evil one, as well as the promise that she will be the mother of all the living.1 By virtue of this promise, Sarah conceives a son in spite of her old age.2 Against all human expectation God chooses those who were considered powerless and weak to show forth his faithfulness to his promises: Hannah, the mother of Samuel; Deborah; Ruth; Judith and Esther; and many other women.3 Mary “stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently hope for and receive salvation from him. After a long period of waiting the times are fulfilled in her, the exalted Daughter of Sion, and the new plan of salvation is established.”4

1 Cf. Gen 3:15, 20.

2 Cf. Gen 18:10-14; 21:1-2.

3 Cf. I Cor 1:17; I Sam 1.

4 LG 55.


Human nature has changed little through all the centuries. When it has, it has often been a change for the worse not for the better. In today’s lesson, we are a bit shocked to hear that the first generation of Christians were beginning to form factions and divisions in the church of Corinth. Three years had barely passed since they had dedicated their lives to Christ, their one ambition and desire being to follow Christ on the road to heaven. Now, already, personal pride was entering in. Some were looking down on others, because it was the great Paul who instructed and converted them. The others resisted this, and claimed a greater superiority, because they had a more eloquent teacher, Apollos of Alexandria, while others, again, began to despise both of these parties, because they were instructed by the head of the Apostles, the Rock, Peter.

How silly it may seem to us! What does it matter who taught them, if they have learned the truth about Christ and God’s great love, for them? To St. Paul it did not seem silly, but very dangerous, because it showed that human pride, the basic sin, and the first sin of human nature, was beginning to revive once more among them.

This letter of St. Paul, recalling to their minds who their true master and teacher was, very likely put an end to this trouble in Corinth, but it did not banish foolish pride from among men, nor worse still from among Christians who profess to be followers of the humble Christ.

Do we need examples to show the dreadful damage that pride has inflicted on the Church of Christ? The long-standing divisions and separated sects in the Church–a scandal to the followers of Christ and an impediment to the conversion of unbelievers–are the direct result of the actions of proud men. It is not necessary here to apportion blame–Paul did not when reproving the divisions in Corinth–but what is necessary is that all Christians should take to heart Paul’s reminder that it was Christ who died for us all and that Christ is not and must not be divided.

Thank God, and thanks to the saintly Pope John, Christians are today taking active steps to reunite the Church of Christ once more, to bring together once again the separated members of Christ’s mystical body. The Roman soldiers nailed his human body to the cross. We, his professed lovers and followers, have torn his mystical body apart. We have been more cruel to him than the ignorant pagan soldiers.

In this essential and urgent work of reunion each one of us, even the humblest and least educated, can play an important part. First, by fervent prayer that God will give all Christians, ourselves included, the grace to come together in true love of God, and true love of our Christian neighbor, no matter what his interpretation or even misrepresentation of Christ’s teaching may have hitherto been. Secondly, by showing in our daily actions that we recognize all men, not alone Christians, as our brothers. We have all been raised to sonship with God, we have all been redeemed by Christ. We must, if we love God and appreciate what God has done for the human race, want all men to avail themselves of this marvelous supernatural gift that he has intended for them.

The most effective and convincing way, in which we can prove our true concern for the eternal welfare of all our fellowman, is by living a true Christian life ourselves. If we have burning within us the fire of God’s love, its heat will spread and warm the hearts and minds of all those with whom we come in contact.

The leaders and theologians of all the Christian bodies will have their very important part to play in this sincere attempt at reunifying the Church of Christ. But unless we, ordinary Christians, bring down the fire of God’s love on earth, by our prayers and good works, their task will be ever so difficult, if not nearly impossible. We’ll begin to put our own Christian faith into daily and hourly practice and start to storm heaven for the success of this most necessary endeavor. God will not be deaf to the requests in word and deed that come from his humble servants.



MT 4:12-23

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,

he withdrew to Galilee.

He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,

in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,

that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet

might be fulfilled:

Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,

the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,

Galilee of the Gentiles,

the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,

on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death

light has arisen.

From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,

Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,

casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.

He said to them,

Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

At once they left their nets and followed him.

He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,

James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.

They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.

He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father

and followed him.

He went around all of Galilee,

teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom,

and curing every disease and illness among the people.


CCC 878 Finally, it belongs to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry that it have a personal character. Although Christ’s ministers act in communion with one another, they also always act in a personal way. Each one is called personally: “You, follow me”1 in order to be a personal witness within the common mission, to bear personal responsibility before him who gives the mission, acting “in his person” and for other persons: “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. ..”; “I absolve you. ..”

CCC 1720 The New Testament uses several expressions to characterize the beatitude to which God calls man:

the coming of the Kingdom of God;2 – the vision of God: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”3

entering into the joy of the Lord;4

entering into God’s rest:5

There we shall rest and see, we shall see and love, we shall love and praise. Behold what will be at the end without end. For what other end do we have, if not to reach the kingdom which has no end?6

CCC 1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”7 Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. “Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.”8

1 Jn 21:22; Cf. Mt 4:19. 21; Jn 1:4.

2 Cf. Mt 4:17.

3 Mt 5:8; cf. 1 Jn 2; 1 Cor 13:12.

4 Mt 25:21-23.

5 Cf. Heb 4:7-11.

6 St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 22, 30, 5: PL 41,804.

7 Mt 4:17.

8 Council of Trent (1547): DS 1528.


The true freedom, and the true light which Christ brought to Galilee nearly 2,000 years ago, were brought on earth for us too. The Christian faith, and the Christian knowledge of God’s love for us and his infinite interest in our real welfare, are his gift to us and to all men of goodwill, who will accept it. Thanks be to God for this marvelous gift of faith, which frees us from the slavery of paganism and sin, and lights the road to heaven for us, amidst the darkness and drudgery of this life.

The lot of the insensitive tree in the forest, and of the dumb beast of the field, would be far and away a better one than the lot of rational man, who knew neither God nor any plan that God had for him. Man with his superior gifts, which raise him above all the other earthly creatures, can experience and enjoy happiness and well-being. The joy of living, the gift of life, is the greatest source and the basis of all his other earthly joys. His short life on earth may be frequently interspersed with troubles and trials, aches and pains, yet to stay alive is so innate a desire, and so strong a determination, that the common opinion of men is that it is only a mentally deranged person who can commit suicide.

But there is a shadow, the shadow of death, over the very greatest of our earthly pleasures. Through our gift of intellect, and the experience of our race, we all know that life on this earth has to end, and no matter how many more years we may think we still have left to us, death will be too soon, far too soon, when it comes. The neo-pagan (the real pagans, who have not heard of the true God, have some god or gods in whom they hope and trust) will do all in his power to forget this dreadful thought of death, but he is reminded of it everyday of his earthly life. To live with this thought that all he shall be in eighty years’ time is a bucket of lifeless and useless dust, must be an anticipation of the hell he may also have to face after his death.

We love life, we too want to live on, we too know that this cannot be on this earth, but thanks to the merciful revelation given us in our faith, we know that the infinite love of God has prepared a future life for us. We know that Christ, by his life and death as man among us, has made us adopted sons of God. We know we have an eternal life awaiting us, when we depart from this life, and that for the Christian who did his best to be a true follower and disciple of Christ, death is not the end but the beginning of our real life. The grave is not our goal forever, but the key which opens the door to eternal life and eternal happiness for us.

With this divine knowledge revealed to us by and through Christ, everything falls into place in our earthly sojourn. We have our joys and our sorrows, our births and our burials, but we know, with the certainty of God’s word, that these are but sign-posts that mark our stages toward, and direct our steps to, our eternal home. We are superior to the tree of the forest therefore, and to the beast of the field, not only because of our earthly gifts of intelligence and will, but because we know that our end on earth will not be like theirs. It will be, instead, the great awakening to a joy and happiness of which, at present, we can only form a very limited and vague idea. We Christians have indeed seen a great, a heaven-sent light.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.


Conversion and Obedience

Faith requires conversion and that conversion is an act of obedience toward a reality which precedes me and which does not originate from me. Moreover, this obedience continues, inasmuch as knowledge never transforms this reality into a constituent element of my own thought, but rather the converse is true; it is I who make myself over to it, while it always remains above me. For Christians, this prior reality is not an “it” but a “he” or, even better, a “you.” It is Christ, the Word made flesh. He is the new beginning of our thought. He is the new “I” which bursts open the limits of subjectivity and the boundaries dividing subject from object, this enabling me to say: “It is no longer I who live.” Conversion does not lead into a private relationship with Jesus, which in reality would be another form of mere monologue. It is delivery into the pattern of doctrine, as Paul says, or, as we discovered in John, entrance into the “we” of the Church. This is the sole guarantee that the obedience which we owe to the truth is concrete… Only the concrete God can be something other than a new projection of one’s own self. Following in Christ’s footsteps is the only way of losing oneself which attains the desired goal… The one who became flesh has remained flesh. He is concrete… Obedience to the Church is the concreteness of our obedience. The Church is that new and greater subject in which past and present, subject and object come into contact. The Church is our contemporaneity with Christ: there is no other.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI


Gracious God,

You have called me to life

and gifted me in many ways.

Through Baptism You have sent me

to continue the mission of Jesus

by sharing my love with others.

Strengthen me to respond to

Your call each day.

Help me to become all You desire of me.

Inspire me to make a difference in others’ lives.

Lead me to choose the way of life

You have planned for me.

Open the hearts of all to listen to Your call.

Fill us with Your Holy Spirit that we may have listening hearts and the courage to respond to You.

Enkindle in my heart and the hearts of others the desire to make the world a better place, all for your glory.

We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A weekly study of the Roman Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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