Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

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

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer to the Holy Spirit before Confession

Come, Holy Spirit, into my soul. Enlighten my mind that I may know the sins I ought to confess, and grant me the grace to confess them fully, humbly, and with a contrite heart. Help me to firmly resolve not to commit them again.

O Blessed Virgin, Mother of my Redeemer, mirror of innocence and sanctity and refuge of penitent sinners, intercede for me that I may obtain the grace to make a good confession.

All you blessed Angels and Saints of God, pray for me, a sinner, that I may repent from my sinful ways and that I may be forever united with you through Christ our Lord. Amen.

COLLECT

Almighty and 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.

READING I

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Jon 3:1-5, 10

The word of the LORD came to Jonah, saying:
“Set out for the great city of Nineveh,
and announce to it the message that I will tell you.”
So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh,
according to the LORD’S bidding.
Now Nineveh was an enormously large city;
it took three days to go through it.
Jonah began his journey through the city,
and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing,
“Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed, ”
when the people of Nineveh believed God;
they proclaimed a fast
and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.

When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way,
he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them;
he did not carry it out.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 678 Following in the steps of the prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus announced the judgment of the Last Day in his preaching.1 Then will the conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to light.2 Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God’s grace as nothing be condemned.3 Our attitude to our neighbor will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love.4 On the Last Day Jesus will say: “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”5

CCC 715 The prophetic texts that directly concern the sending of the Holy Spirit are oracles by which God speaks to the heart of his people in the language of the promise, with the accents of “love and fidelity.”6 St. Peter will proclaim their fulfillment on the morning of Pentecost.7 According to these promises, at the “end time” the Lord’s Spirit will renew the hearts of men, engraving a new law in them. He will gather and reconcile the scattered and divided peoples; he will transform the first creation, and God will dwell there with men in peace.

CCC 1287 This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah’s, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people.8 On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit,9 a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost.10 Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim “the mighty works of God,” and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age.11 Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn.12

1 Cf. Dan 7:10; Joel 3-4; Mal 3: 19; Mt 3:7-12.
2 Cf Mk 12:38-40; Lk 12:1-3; Jn 3:20-21; Rom 2:16; I Cor 4:5.
3 Cf. Mt 11:20-24; 12:41-42.
4 Cf. Mt 5:22; 7:1-5.
5 Mt 25:40.
6 Cf. Ezek 11:19; 36:25-28; 37:1-14; Jer 31:31-34; and cf. Joel 3:1-5.
7 Cf. Acts 2:17-21.
8 Cf. Ezek 36:25-27; Joel 3:1-2.
9 Cf. Lk 12:12; Jn 3:5-8; 7:37-39; 16:7-15; Acts 1:8.
10 Cf. Jn 20:22; Acts 2:1-14.
11 Acts 2:11; Cf. 2:17-18.
12 Cf. Acts 2:38.

APPLICATION

The lesson of this story should have been very clear to the writer’s Jewish contemporaries. They could see from it that God did not approve of their narrow-minded religious and nationalistic outlook. Even if they were God’s Chosen People, he was not their God to the exclusion of all other races. He owned them but they did not own him, and this was exactly what they were trying to do. Yet, had they known the history of God’s dealings with them, they should have understood that God had chosen them in order that the blessings of the incarnation would come through them to all nations. Abraham, their Father, was called to be a blessing for his descendants and for the whole world (Gen. 12: 3). Too often many of them forgot this.

These verses from Jonah have not been chosen for today’s reading so that we should condemn the narrow-mindedness of the Jews of past ages. They have been chosen to remind us of our duty to look on all men as adopted sons of God and our brothers, toward whom we have a grave obligation to help on the road to heaven. God has destined all men for heaven. He sent his divine Son as man to make heaven available for all. He expected his Chosen People of old to share their special knowledge of him with their pagan neighbors. So too does he expect every Christian worthy of the name to do all in his power to spread the greater knowledge of Christ the Savior among all peoples, so that they too can share in the blessings he brought and avail of the happy future which is in store for them.

Have we been doing this? Have we really been interested in our fellowman? How often have we given them a thought or prayed for their conversion? How often have we donated a dime or a dollar to help the missionaries who, at home and abroad, have dedicated their lives to the conversion of pagans and sinners? There are Christians who excuse themselves from this obligation because they say: “we have more than enough to do to work out our own salvation.” Their statement is more true than they realize. They will never succeed in reaching their own eternal salvation if they refuse to help their fellowman. No one who does not love God can get to heaven. The proof of real love of God is love of our neighbor, St. John tells us. So, to know if we are on the right road to heaven let us examine our consciences as regards our love of neighbor. Have we been practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, especially the spiritual works? It is they that are in question in today’s reading.

Pope Pius XI used to say: “The Christian who is not an Apostle is on the way to becoming an apostate.” The reason is that the very essence of Christianity is love, and love like heat diffuses itself automatically. The Christian who is not spreading the love of God has not got that love within him. His heart is full of self. There is no room in it for God. Down through the ages we have more than enough proof of this, but more so perhaps in recent times. We have men and women today who at one time gave themselves wholeheartedly to the service of God and their neighbor. But through over concentration on themselves, on their rights and freedoms, they have forgotten their neighbor, and to all intents and purposes therefore, they are forgetting God and their own eternal welfare.

While we beg of God to keep us on the right road to heaven, let us realize that if we want to stay on that road we must help all our brothers that we meet on the way. We must help our next-door neighbors by example and word. Those who are far off too, we must help financially, and by our prayers and penances. There is abundant room for all in God’s heaven. Because of the good influence he had, directly or indirectly, on their lives on earth, each one’s own personal happiness will be intensified and increased by seeing and knowing the happiness these others are enjoying in heaven.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9

Teach me your ways, O Lord.

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.

Teach me your ways, O Lord.

Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.

Teach me your ways, O Lord.

Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice
and teaches the humble his way.

Teach me your ways, O Lord.

READING II

 

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1 Cor 7:29-31

I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out.
From now on, let those having wives act as not having them,
those weeping as not weeping,
those rejoicing as not rejoicing,
those buying as not owning,
those using the world as not using it fully.
For the world in its present form is passing away.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1619 Virginity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven is an unfolding of baptismal grace, a powerful sign of the supremacy of the bond with Christ and of the ardent expectation of his return, a sign which also recalls that marriage is a reality of this present age which is passing away.1

1 Cf. Mk 12:25; 1 Cor 7:31.

APPLICATION

St. Paul is speaking to each one of us here today and is giving us the very same sound, spiritual advice which he gave to his converts in Corinth. Unlike them, we are not expecting the general judgement in our lifetime; but what is worse, most of us are giving little thought to the particular judgement, to the fact that each one of us will soon be called to meet Christ in a judgement that will decide our eternal future. It is a strange, human phenomenon that while we plan and provide for future probabilities, some of which will never happen, few of us plan and provide for the one certain, future fact in our lives, which is that we are certain to die some day.

Men train for occupations and professions. Men build houses for themselves and their families. Men take out insurances against illness and unemployment. Men put money into businesses or investments which are likely to give them a sound income later. And all the while they are speculating, perhaps wisely, on future probabilities, but failing to face and prepare for the one certain future happening: their departure from this world.

Someone may say: must we take no interest then in temporal affairs? Of course, we must! It is ‘by taking an interest in, and honestly and fully carrying out, our temporal duties that we are making ourselves ready at all times to meet our Judge. Each one’s daily task faithfully carried out is a devout prayer to God, it is an honor given by man to his Creator; it is the Christian’s way of saying “thank you” to Christ our Savior.

Preparing for heaven does not mean removing oneself from association with the world. Some devout Christians did this in the early Church. It means using the world as the stairs on which we can climb to heaven. Men can have wives, and women can have husbands, they can have homes and property, investments and insurances, provided all these things are accepted as God’s gifts and used for their own and their neighbor’s sanctification. It is the abuse of these gifts that can make us all unfit and not ready to meet our Judge. A healthy bank account–the fruit of honest labor–will be no hindrance to entering heaven, whereas the rags and poverty of the idler are no open sesame for the heavenly portals. Let us remember this always: the time in which we can earn the everlasting life after death is very short even for the youngest amongst us. But be it thirty days or sixty years, whatever length of time it is, each one of us can make sure that we shall be found ready when our last moment comes. We can indeed assure ourselves of this, if we begin today to live a Christian life, loving God and neighbor. This is indeed the word of the Lord coming to us through the great Apostle St. Paul.

GOSPEL

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Mk 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 abandoned 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.

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/012118.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 787 From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the Kingdom to them, and gave them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings.1 Jesus spoke of a still more intimate communion between him and those who would follow him: “Abide in me, and I in you. .. I am the vine, you are the branches.”2 And he proclaimed a mysterious and real communion between his own body and ours: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”3

CCC 1423 It is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus’ call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father4 from whom one has strayed by sin.
It is called the
sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner’s personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction.

CCC 1427 Jesus calls to conversion. This call is an essential part of the proclamation of the kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.”5 In the Church’s preaching this call is addressed first to those who do not yet know Christ and his Gospel. Also, Baptism is the principal place for the first and fundamental conversion. It is by faith in the Gospel and by Baptism6 that one renounces evil and gains salvation, that is, the forgiveness of all sins and the gift of new life.

CCC 2612 In Jesus “the Kingdom of God is at hand.”7 He calls his hearers to conversion and faith, but also to watchfulness. In prayer the disciple keeps watch, attentive to Him Who Is and Him Who Comes, in memory of his first coming in the lowliness of the flesh, and in the hope of his second coming in glory.8 In communion with their Master, the disciples’ prayer is a battle; only by keeping watch in prayer can one avoid falling into temptation.9

1 Cf. Mk 1:16-20; 3:13-19; Mt 13:10-17; Lk 10:17-20; 22:28-30.
2 Jn 15:4-5.
3 Jn 6:56.
4 Cf. Mk 1:15; Lk 15:18.
5 Mk 1:15.
6 Cf. Acts 2:38.
7 Mk 1:15.
8 Cf. Mk 13; Lk 21:34-36.
9 Cf. Lk 22:40, 46.

APPLICATION

“Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of God.” Jesus came to announce to all men the good news of God’s eternal plan for them. He spent his public life convincing the Jews of Palestine of the truth of this message, and he died on the cross because be claimed to be what he was–God’s divine Son, who had come in human nature to raise all men to the standing and status of adopted sons of God. That very death, cruel and unjust though it was, was part of the divine plan. He conquered death and was raised from the grave to prove that we too, if we accept his divine gospel and live by it, will be raised from the dead and reign with Christ in the kingdom of his Father forever. Christ preached this doctrine in Palestine. It is the doctrine for which he gave his human life and which he gave to his Apostles to hand down to all future generations. This is the self-same doctrine preached by Christ’s Church to all men today. It is the good news of God’s mercy and love toward us weak, mortal creatures. To some it seems too good to be true; it would indeed be so if God were a limited, finite being like us, but he is Being itself. He is without limit, his goodness and love are limitless as is his nature. What God can see in creatures has ever been a puzzle to thinking man. One of the psalm-writers said centuries ago: “what is man that you should spare a thought for him, the son of man that you should care for him?” (Ps. 8: 4). Many a saint too, has repeated this remark ever since.

We cannot hope to fathom the mind of God, nor do we need to. He has gone to such a length as the humiliation of his divine Son in the incarnation in order to give us a new standing in relation to himself and a new mode of eternal living after death. We are still God’s creatures, “the work of his hands,” but through accepting Christ and his gospel–his message of divine truth–we are no longer mere mortals. We shall die, but death is the beginning of the true life which God has arranged for us. It is no wonder that St. Paul could cry out: “O death where is your victory, O death, where is your sting?”

We Christians should be the happiest people on earth. We know why we are here, we know where we are going and we know how to get there. There are trials and troubles which beset us on our journey; there are rough parts of the road and weaknesses in our human nature which often lead us off the right road, but we are not left to our own human resources. We have help from above to strengthen and comfort us on our journey. We have divine aids in the Church which Christ set us and we have the guarantee of our Good Shepherd that he will keep us in his fold or bring us back should we foolishly wander from it (Jn. 10: 14; Lk. 15: 4-7).

We Christians can indeed be the happiest people on earth, if we live according to the divine good news revealed to us through Christ. “Repent and believe in the gospel,” Christ told the people of Galilee. The same call goes out from our loving Savior to each of us today: repent–change your outlook on life–see it, as God sees it to be for us, a short journey toward heaven. If we really believe in the gospel of Christ, the revelation of God’s plan for our eternal happiness, our earthly troubles will look small, our trials and temptations will appear to us as they really are–a means of earning the eternal victory. Christ, the innocent victim for our salvation, has gone before us, carrying his heavy cross, can we refuse to carry the relatively lighter cross which he places on our shoulders as our means of making atonement for our own failings and for those of our fellowman? God forbid that we should! If we have failed in the past, let us repent today and show our belief in the truth of the Christian gospel, by living as true Christians who are on their way to heaven.

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

BENEDICTUS

Following, Believing, Loving

To follow” means to entrust oneself to the Word of God, to rate it higher than the laws of money and bread and to live by it. In short, to follow means to believe, but to “believe” in the sense of making a radical decision between the two and, in the last analysis, the only two possibilities for human life: bread and the word. The human person does not live on bread alone but also and primarily on the word, the spirit, meaning. It is always this same radical decision that confronts disciples when they hear the call “Follow me!”; the radical decision to stake one’s life either on profit and gain or on truth and love; the radical decision to live for oneself or to surrender one’s self… Only in losing themselves can human beings find themselves. The real and radical martyrdom of genuine self-renunciation is and remains the basic condition for following Christ… To follow Christ means to accept the inner essence of the cross, namely the radical love expressed therein, and thus to imitate God himself. For on the cross God revealed himself as the One who pours himself out in prodigal fashion; who surrenders his glory in order to be present for us; who desires to rule the world not by power but my love, and in the weakness of the cross reveals his power which operates so differently from the power of this world’s mighty rulers. To follow Christ, then, means to enter into the self-surrender that is the real heart of love. To follow Christ means to become one who loves as God has loved… In the last analysis, to follow Christ is simply for man to become human by integration into the humanity of God.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to Turn From Sin

Father, Your Love never fails.

Keep me from danger and provide for all my needs.

Teach me to be thankful for Your Gifts.

Confident in Your Love, may I be holy by sharing Your Life,

and grant me forgiveness of my sins.

May Your unfailing Love turn me from sin and keep me on the way that leads to you.

Help me to grow in Christian love through Christ our Lord. Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=724

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About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A weekly study of the 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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