From pastor’s desk on the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, year B
With the rise of modern psychology many people seek the so-called self-fulfillment or self-realization. The problem with that is that most of the time we do not even know what makes us fulfilled or self-realized. Very often we achieve the desired goal, but we end up being greatly disillusioned. In reality, we do not know what really is good for us and what makes us whole. Moreover, it is not uncommon that the human need for self-fulfillment quickly turns into selfishness. God’s commandments and fraternal charity are laid aside and it becomes all about “me” and “my happiness.” In consequence, many people become miserable and restless or they plunge into hedonism and stifle the deepest longing of human heart—the longing for God.
Viktor Frankl, a well-known Austrian psychiatrist and holocaust survivor, wrote a book entitled “Man’s search for meaning.” Currently, it is a classic of existential psychology. In this book, Frankl describes his experience of the concentration camp and the horror of war, but he also shares his thoughts on the role of faith and spirituality in human life. Frankl observed that people had a better chance of survival and sanity, if they believed in God. Those people who had strong faith were much better equipped to deal with the horrific reality surrounding them. They also could see a deeper meaning to their suffering and a purpose of life that went beyond this world.
I am sharing this example with you, for this Sunday our Lord Jesus calls us to deeper way of life. We see how the Lord by entering human life provides purpose and meaning for every human being. Hence, there are two important utterances of Jesus in this Sunday’s gospel that go against the spirit of this world fixated on self-fulfillment. In the first utterance we hear Jesus calling people to repentance: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” In the second, our Lord calls the first disciples to follow Him: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
The first announcement of Jesus is a wakeup call. If people want to see the Messiah and enter His Kingdom, they need to repent. In other words, people must turn away from their sins, which consist of evil deeds and deceitful thoughts. However, repentance is impossible without faith. It is faith in God that makes one want to change. So, when Jesus is calling people to repentance, He ultimately is calling them to have faith in God. Repentance is only a necessary step in the growth of faith. To translate that to our lives today, we need to see how our faith shapes our motivation and choices. If I truly believe in God, my life cannot be the same as that of the world. Otherwise I will be like those who follow Jesus out of curiosity but eventually turned away from Him, for they lacked faith in Christ as the Son of God.
In the second utterance our Lord invites His first disciples to leave everything they knew up to this point and join Him on an unexpected journey. Their response is immediate with no regret and no turning back. It is a journey of the apostles, that is, the messengers of the Good News. As we know how the story develops, the apostles are entrusted with the preaching of the Kingdom of God to the entire world. In this way, they find fulfillment in their lives while forgetting their personal needs and focusing only on the Lord Jesus who becomes their Way, their Truth, and their Life.
Our Lord Jesus calls each one of us by name and He knows what we are capable of. Let us pray that we too may be courageous to follow Christ whenever He calls us to a specific vocation or mission in the Church. For serving the Church—the Mystical Body of Christ—we will serve all peoples of the world and advance the coming of the Kingdom.
Have a blessed week! Fr. Janusz Mocarski, pastor