Arrested for Active Participation
Gospel Reflection for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
I was arrested this weekend. No, not the kind in handcuffs… (I would be traumatized forever). I was arrested by the goodness of God convicting me to turn my life around. Looking at the definition of arrest, I empathized with criminals being held captive as I’m given time to “stop and check my process.” I’ve been overwhelmed, overcommitted, and losing track of what is good. As I have not been aware of my capacity for emotions, thoughts, and responsibilities, God allowed me to metaphorically hit rock bottom. This experience just so happened to be the 9th day of my Surrender Novena. In a sense, God was telling me “hands up!”
According to a friend who works in law enforcement, "the purpose of arrests is to prevent the continuation of an offense against order." He and his brothers and sisters in blue arrest individuals who are a danger to themselves and/or others so there can be a greater sense of safety and security in the short-term and hopefully changed behavior in the long-term. When someone is making poor decisions, an arrest can be a wake-up call to change. And that’s exactly what this weekend was for me: a wake-up call.
Today’s Gospel picks up “After John had been arrested.” Though John did not break God’s law, he broke the law of the world in pointing to a power greater than himself. God allowed the arrest of John, so Jesus could be handed the baton and come to town.
“The Lord God will fight for you; you need only be still.” (Exodus 14:14)
Staying with the metaphor of being arrested, I imagine John sitting in a jail cell. He possibly was thinking of all the things he could no longer do. His experience of freedom was now different. Rather than being free to speak. He was now free to be silent. Rather than being called to do, he was now being called to be.
With this in mind, I noticed how this Gospel is full of action verbs! I invite you to journey through these verses waking up to the action of God in your life and how He is asking you to participate. As we all are sinners taken captive daily by sin, this reflection may serve as a sort of Examination of Conscience.
Jesus came to Galilee to proclaim His first words in the Gospel of Mark: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Come: move toward something, to move or journey with a specified purpose, to arrive in due course.
Jesus is always moving towards the Father as He journeys with us as we encounter His love. He is never late and always arrives in due course. This means that we cannot make it happen any quicker and it will happen when the time is right for it. God’s timing is indeed perfect and He is always faithful and trustworthy.
Proclaim: declare something one considers important with due emphasis.
Jesus is unapologetic about announcing the coming of His kingdom. He wants us to hear the Good News. He wants us to respond. He calls us to act!
He convicts our hearts to repent or to feel sorry, self-reproachful, or contrite for past action or attitude. He invites us to believe in the gospel. As we learned at Christmas, the gospel is Jesus, the Word-Incarnate. To believe in this case is to have confidence and faith in the truth, existence, reliability, honesty, and benevolence of Jesus. One can also define belief as a conviction that Christ is, has been, or will be engaged in a given action or involved in a given situation.
Jesus is real.
Jesus is true.
Jesus is reliable.
Jesus is honest.
Jesus is good.
Jesus is engaged.
Jesus is involved.
What is Jesus proclaiming in your life?
What is He calling you to repent of?
In what ways or in what areas are you finding it hard to believe?
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 passed by. No one seemed to notice or conduct themselves in accordance with His presence. Yet, He saw Simon and Andrew. He noticed them and understood the importance of the encounter that was about to occur. Before Jesus spoke to them, Simon and Andrew were casting their nets into the sea.
Cast: throw off or away, to direct, to cause to fall upon something or in a certain direction.
Whether we are casting nets, energy, worry, or time, Jesus sees us. Jesus knows what we need.
“Cast all your cares upon the Lord because He cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7
Do you notice Jesus?
Are you letting Him see you at all times, even during your workday?
Where are you casting the nets in your life?
In what direction are you headed?
Do you feel directionless without a point or purpose?
Are you casting towards what will satisfy or what will starve?
Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
As Jesus comes to us, He invites us to come to Him. A true and lasting relationship is one that is mutual where both members are turning toward one another. Jesus speaks to us and gives us purpose. He pursues us patiently as He is confident we will respond “in due course.” He does not force us to follow. He calls and waits. When we answer, He promises to make us “fishers of men.” While these lowly fishermen thought they were meant to simply catch fish, God had bigger plans in store for them.
Make: bring into being by forming, shaping, or altering material; cause to exist, occur, or appear; created; favor the growth or occurence of; fit, intend, or destine by.
How is God currently forming, shaping, or altering your identity to become a new creation in His Truth?
How is the Holy Spirit calling you to experience His creativity in your heart and in your work? Tell Jesus about your longing to become made new?
In response to this invitation, Simon and Andrew abandoned their nets…
Abandon: leave completely and finally; forsake utterly; give up the control of; yield oneself without restraint or moderation; give oneself over to natural impulses, usually without self-control.
What is Jesus asking you to abandon? To leave completely and finally? To give up control of?
Tell Jesus about your resistance to abandoning what you are not called to carry.
… and followed him.
Follow: accept as a guide or leader; accept the authority of or give allegiance to… to go in pursuit of.
Do you accept Jesus as your guide and leader?
Do you accept the authority of or give allegiance to Him?
What holds you back from going in pursuit of Him?
What other "guides" or "leaders" do you follow instead?
[Jesus] walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
Walk: advance by steps; to come or go easily or readily.
Do you feel seen by Jesus?
Do you recognize His presence as He walks with you throughout each day?
How is He asking you to slow down and take things step-by-step?
[James and John] were in a boat mending their nets.
Mend: make something broken, worn, torn, or otherwise damaged whole, sound, or usable by repairing… remove or correct defects or errors in…. set right; make better; improve... progress toward recovery, as a sick person… improve, as conditions or affairs.
What will you be busy doing when Jesus comes?
What nets are you trying to mend on your own without Jesus’ help?
What in your life seems impossible to mend?
Are you distracting yourself with busyness or are you making progress in the business of the Kingdom?
What is God giving me an opportunity to mend in my life this week?
Then He called them.
Call: speak to or attempt to reach someone by means of a call
Do you hear Jesus calling you today? What is He saying?
How is He calling you to respond?
In what ways have you experienced a “bad connection” on the call?
They left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.
Left: go away from; to terminate an association with; withdraw from.
What relationships do we place above God? How is God asking us to detach?
What healthy boundaries does Jesus want to help us form in our current season of life?
Talk to Jesus about how your life can be more rightly ordered to Him.
Are you following Jesus with your whole heart, mind, strength, and schedule?
Are there any conditions you give Jesus before you follow Him?
Talk to Him about what you’re afraid of.
Life requires our participation!
In this new calendar year and in this new season of Ordinary Time, the Gospel is as alive and active today as it was 2 millennia ago! Let us be alert and recognize Jesus at work in our hearts, lives, and schedules. If we fall asleep, we will miss His action. We will not hear the call. We will be slow to follow.
“The moment has arrived, the privileged time, the Kairos; something that human beings have been longing for and striving after and hoping to see has appeared, and the time is now for a decision, for action. Jesus’ very first words are a wake-up call, a warning bell in the night, a summons to attention. This is not the time to be asleep, not the time to be languishing in complacency and self-satisfaction, not the time for delaying tactics, for procrastination and second-guessing. (Bishop Barron)
Are you languishing in complacency and self-satisfaction?
Do you have a role in delaying tactics?
Are you procrastinating and second-guessing?
How are you stewarding God's time - Kairos?
Jesus is waking us up. Bishop Barron understands Jesus' proclamation to say, "There is something to be seen, so open your eyes." He sees us and He wants to be seen by us.
C.S. Lewis reflects on how Christ's words are so unique:
“The things He says are very different from what any other teacher has said. Others say, ‘This is the truth about the Universe. This is the way you ought to go,’ but He says, I am the Truth, and the Way, and the Life.” He says, ‘No man can reach absolute reality, except through Me. Try to retain your own life and you will be inevitably ruined. Give yourself away and you will be saved.’ He says, ‘If you are ashamed of Me, if, when you hear this call, you turn the other way, I also will look the other way when I come again as God without disguise. If anything whatever is keeping you from God and form Me, whatever it is, throw it away. If it is your eye, pull it out. If it is your hand, cut it off. If it is your self first you will be last. Come to Me everyone who is carrying a heavy load, I will set that right. Your sins, all of them, are wiped out, I can do that. I am Re-birth, I am Life. Eat Me, drink Me, I am your Food. And finally, do not be afraid, I have overcome the whole Universe.’ That is the issue. - God in the Dock
Have you had any experience of being arrested literally or metaphorically?
How did it wake you up and encourage you to invite Jesus to show up?
What action word stands out for you from today's Gospel?
John was arrested by the world because He was awake, active, and walking in the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I pray that I am found guilty of that conviction. Do you?
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