THIRD SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
“No credit till tomorrow”. So was the clear message to the buyers in one shop of Freetown some years ago. They had to pay for their purchases then and there, without exception, for the following day would carry the same message! In today’s Gospel we can hear the same thing, “The time has come”, now and not tomorrow.
These are the first words Jesus speaks in Mark’s Gospel. A very meaningful opening to His ministry, after generations of promises and hopes. We can make those words even clearer to us if we replace the word time with Christ. In that case the translation would go like this, “I have come”, I, the Messiah, the Son of Man, the Son of God, the universal Saviour!
Jesus then becomes clearly our “time”, the time of our real, true, and blessed life. This time has already turned into eternity into the endless love of God.
Does He truly mean so for me, for each one of us? Is Jesus “my” time, my life?
Today Jesus continues His message by telling the people that the kingdom of God is close at hand. This divine kingdom is not far away from us as would be some wild dreams of ours! But it is so next to us, so easy to possess, that we only need to open our hands in order to own it for good. Sometimes we may feel that the Lord is far away from our everyday business, our problems, our feelings, our desires … How can he busy himself with our little or big problems down here? But Jesus assures us that God (and so His kingdom) is actually at hand, now as always, here as everywhere, for all and each one of us! This is our Christian faith. The Lord is present to us more than the air we need to breathe or the heart that keeps pumping without any decision of ours.
He has come, He is here, always for me!
Jesus’ first disciples understood so well that the “time had come” that they left their nets and followed Him at once. They did not tell Him, “we are following you tomorrow” or “wait small small,” as they say in Sierra Leone. No, they left everything on the spot, because they knew it was both useless and detrimental to procrastinate their decision. Divine calls and graces are absolute opportunities, second to none.
What about us? We can never bargain with God about time. He is the beginning and end of everything. He is offering us his eternity now, not tomorrow. If I am truly serious to follow Jesus, then His word “repent” is an absolute imperative, first and above all, not as a burden or a suffering, but as the greatest chance and joy of my life. Now and here!
When I lived in USA, I was surprised to read on the dollar bills “In God we trust.” And also surprised to hear people telling one another that “time is money.” And I wondered, how could they put those two contradictory statements together. It was beyond my comprehension. However, we practically (and unfortunately) accept the frequent compromise to spend time partly for God and partly for money. But can it be done, when Jesus Himself said that we cannot be the servants of both God and mammon?
Compromising with what Jesus called “this world” is really a daily temptation for every Christian. For we would much like our Christian faith to be more comfortable, more down to earth. More often than not we would like God to do our will and to grant us all our wishes. Are we then taking Jesus’ words seriously and … eternally?
Then, together with all the Saints, we can honestly reflect on His words, “believe the Good News” and wonder what is truly good news for us, for me, in this world, now that the time has come, that God is my Emmanuel. What does God really will FOR us? Just a few more years around? Some gold and silver? Power and pleasures?
The personal answer can easily come at our best moments of prayer, either in Church or anywhere. “Lord, what do you want to give me, here and now?”
The answer will come, for sure, and it will find us ready to follow Him “at once”. Would we not?