By Father Patrick Longalong
MANY OF US might have heard of the term “creatures of habit” when referring to a person’s tendency to do the same things over and over again.
Most often, this can refer to our day-to-day schedule. We have a routine in the morning when we prepare ourselves for work or school, or even coming to church. I can see in my mind a parishioner that comes to daily Mass. She enters the front doors, goes straight to the holy water font to bless herself, says a prayer in front of the image of St. Anthony and then sits down in the same seat she takes every day for Mass.
Pause for a moment to reflect on what your daily routine is like and imagine yourself doing it.
All of a sudden, there is an interruption: The phone rings, maybe another person sat in your seat or someone needs your help with something. What does your interruption look like? How does it make you feel?
My natural reaction to interruption is to be grumpy. In fact, I try to figure out the best time to work that I won’t be halted by a crisis, a quick question, or a phone call. Being in a large parish, that is next to impossible. It is easy for us to snap at someone when our routine gets somehow changed, especially when we are on a roll. It is hard to abandon what we are doing, especially when are already in the middle of it. Not just because someone else wants my attention.
This week, we see Peter, Andrew, James and John busily mending and casting their nets: their daily life routine, lived on autopilot. A predictable and safe way of living. Wake up, feed the family, go to work, pay the bills, go to sleep then restart the cycle again the following day.
More often, Jesus has a tendency of showing up unannounced and with no appointment. Today, on this third Sunday of Ordinary Time, He interrupts us with an invitation to follow Him.
Jesus’ invitation to “Come follow Me” is an offer to a new way of living and seeing life. But in order to experience that, Jesus also described that there will be a transformation that has to occur. When Jesus says, “I will make you fishers of men” and not just of fish, He is describing the transformation of the lives of His new disciples, that what they will be doing is not just for their own benefit, but also for the good of all. It is like telling a group of carpenters, “Follow me, and you will build the kingdom of heaven,” or to doctors, “Follow me, and you will heal the brokenness of the world.”
In whatever type of work or daily activities we do, Jesus invites us to participate in God’s saving work. It is the type of work that can change and nurture the heart and soul of those people we meet each day.
Reorienting Our Lives
Like Jonah in the first reading, we are called to renew in people’s hearts their love for God and to also follow Him. This new work is always about moving to a larger vision, reorienting our lives in a new direction. Jesus teaches us a new way of living: not to worry and sweat about the small stuff, but to raise our awareness that our lives are part of something bigger, greater and much more exciting. We are reminded that we are a part of God’s life.
Readings for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jonah 3: 1-5, 10
Psalm 25: 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
1 Corinthians 7: 29-31
Mark 1: 14-20
Father Longalong is the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes parish, Queens Village, and the coordinator of the diocesan Ministry to Filipino Immigrants.