Reading for Third Sunday after Epiphany
Peace be with you!
It takes courage to answer Jesus’s call [whatever “it” is], because it often involves an immediate action. In such cases, there is no luxury of getting things in order or making plans. Jesus does not use strategic planning to execute the best possible plan of action, whether he encourages us to be lead by the spirit. There is no “maybe” or “not at this time, but maybe later.” Jesus does not give you time to think it over. He wants immediate decision to follow the spirit.
In John 1:43-51, Jesus calls Nathanael to follow him. We discussed how difficult it is as American to follow Jesus; our culture pressures us to be leaders and not followers. America’s virtues are built upon individualism. Yet leaders build onto to the ideas of those before them. In Mark 1:14-20, we learn what it means to follow Jesus: “Repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15c NRSV).
First, we must repent of our sins and confess our need for Jesus. We heard the call to repent before from John the Baptist (Mark 1:4; John 1:31). We repent because we are not worthy of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins; we are not worthy to be in a relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. By repenting, we admit our need for Jesus, and we commit our lives to him.
Second, we must believe in the good news: the Kingdom of God is near (Mark 1:15b). Jesus comes into the world spokesperson for God the Father and his Kingdom: to tell us he hears our cries, frustration, laughter, and every other emotion. Jesus is the Son of God and knows we need him. We have to succumb to the fact that we need Jesus and believe he comes into the world for the benefit of our souls. We have to let go of the world’s pressures and believe God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit will never leave us hanging nor let us drown in our sins but will give us eternal life. Nothing else matters. The world could end tomorrow, and we would join God in his Kingdom, because that is what he promises us through Jesus’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection. Nothing else matters.
Third, we are called into action: to spread the good news (Mark 1:17c). Jesus calls Simon and Andrew and says, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people” (Mark 1:17). When we follow Jesus, he leads us where we need to be and gives us the courage, the wisdom, and the words to carry out his plan. You do not need to hold a master’s degree or to be a pastor to spread the good news—all you need is Jesus Christ and everything else will fall into place. Jesus calls us to be teachers, doctors, personal caregivers, writers, speakers, models, and [whatever “it” is] you do to share the good news. As longer as you lift up God in your work, you are fulfilling Jesus’s call.
Even on days we are sub-par, Jesus calls you to carry out your vocation. When I was going through my divorce, the last thing on my mind was writing these weekly devotions. A few colleagues filled in for a month, because I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I barely had the energy to get the basics done—eating, showering, cleaning, and tending to the pups. The next month I wrote as I was able, with raw emotions and insights as to how God was helping me through that difficult time. I continued to answer Jesus’s call by giving what I could—knowing God would fill in the gaps. Over time, God healed my wounds and gave me the courage to continue my work. God showed me the way through the darkness and showed me the light.
Following Jesus is not easy. Satan gets in the way and makes us question the “what” and the “where” of Jesus’s call. Our vocations come with tears, frustration, and exhaustion—not because God sends us to do the impossible but because Satan wants to stop us. However, God has done the hard work by sending his only begotten son to die on the cross and to conquer death through his resurrection. This is what makes our work to spread the good news in our given vocations possible.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for calling us to follow Jesus Christ. Lead us to answer your call to spread the good news within our vocations. Remind us that we are here to carry out your plan, not our own agendas. Give us the strength to resist Satan’s temptations. Thank you for giving us each unique vocations through which to spread the good news. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- How do you spread the good news within your vocations?
- What do you do to resist Satan’s temptations?