This past Sunday I shared the Liturgy of the Word with nine children from the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Grand Rapids, MI. The gospel was from Mark 1:14-20. It begins with Jesus proclaiming, "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” The next verses recount how Jesus called simple fishermen to be his followers. We talked about what that might have been like for these men to be issued an invitation from the Son of God to come and follow him.
I asked, "What were these fishermen called to do?"
Hesitantly one young man said hesitantly, "Tell people about Jesus?"
"Yes, the apostles were called to share the Good News about Jesus. "The Kingdom of God was at hand." The king was Jesus and he not only told people that God loved them and wanted to free them from their sins, he himself loved them and freed them from the bondage of their sins. When Jesus died, rose and ascended into heaven, He sent his Holy Spirit to fill his apostles with strength and courage and zeal, to share this message of God's love and mercy by the way they lived and loved and offered forgiveness. And so it has been down through the ages all the way to...?"
"Us," several children said simultaneously, with a bit of awe in their voices.
I asked, "Who has shared this Good News with you?"
The answers included the usual, "Priests, my mom, my dad, grandparents, teachers, you!"
"And who is going to share the good news with the next group of people? Who is being called to this mission?"
"What must we do to hear the voice of God?"
"Come to church. Pray. Listen to the prayers and readings at mass."
"And how can we share this Good News about Jesus?"
"Tell them that God loves them." "Be kind to people."
The children get the message; God calls but we need to listen. God longs to give, but needs hearts willing to receive God's gifts of love and mercy and followers willing to share them. We are called to be bearers of this Good News, but our world is full of distractions and sometimes we cannot hear God's voice or see God's gifts. We need silence and space to get in touch with this reality.
I have a little prayer table in my office and spend much time there in prayer. I have some items that help me remember God's love for me. A statue of the Good Shepherd reminds me that God knows me by name and calls me to be in a relationship with him. A crucifix and a statue of the Risen Christ stand side by side to remind me that without the Resurrection, the crucifixion would make no sense. I have a little globe-God's love is for all; a sheep, an angel sitting on a rock gazing at Jesus; a leaf, a stone with the word gratitude, a little dish of mustard seeds; a statue of Mary-the first and most faithful disciple and a candle to remind me that, "Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) I am surrounded by books that are filled with the Good news of God's love ready to encourage me and challenge me to live out my faith wherever I am. I know that God loves me and God loves you too. God needs us to share this Good News.
Let us pray,
Lord God, You are always calling out to us, to seek and find you. You love us so much and simply ask us to love you in return. This is a very personal relationship, unique to each of us. I pray Lord, that we who read these words today will find time to sit quietly, to be still, to listen for your voice. May our eyes be open to see you, our ears open to hear you, and our hearts open to receive and delight in all the gifts that you wish to bestow on us. Thank you God, for all you have given to us and help us be generous in sharing you with others. We pray this in Jesus' name, Amen.