Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Matthew 4:12-23

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“Jesus withdrew” Pastel: Ronald Raab, CSC

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Dear Followers of Jesus,

Today’s gospel (Matthew 4:12-23) reveals the call of the first disciples. Simon and Andrew were brothers. Jesus saw them and invited them to follow him. With no second thoughts, they left everything behind to follow Jesus. Wow! There must have been more to this story! Imagine that a stranger comes along and invites you to follow his ways and you leave everything you have ever known, including your livelihood, to follow him.

Jesus asked the same of two other brothers, James and John. They even left their father, Zebedee, to follow Jesus. Jesus then performed miracles along the way, curing every disease and illness among the people, and establishing his authority among them.

One thing strikes me in this gospel. Jesus saw the best in people. He recognized their potential. He overlooked many of their weaknesses and foibles. I believe that Jesus does the same for us. I want to hold on to this from Jesus’ encounter with his disciples.

So many times when I hear people talk about their relationship with Jesus, they start off by saying that it is a negative relationship because of what people have done in their lives. I don’t believe that anything really stands in the way of our relationship with Christ Jesus. Life is a journey. I think we need to take this gospel to heart. Jesus wants the best for us because he sees the best within us. Perhaps we can learn to carry this example into other aspects of our lives. Examine how many times you put other people down or speak negatively about them when you meet someone new or hear rumors about their lives.

Perhaps we can let these negative things go and begin to see the positive aspects of people’s lives as Jesus did. Whether in parish communities or politics, in our family lives or with people in authority, we tend to condemn first and ask questions later.

The gospel today suggests that Jesus saw the best in these two sets of brothers. Let’s examine our lives so that we, too, may follow in the path of Jesus seeing the best in one another. When we can do this, all kinds of new miracles will flow into our lives.

Let’s build a community where we can see the best in people and believe the best about what people do.

Here are some questions to consider: How can I realize that I am loved and accepted by Jesus? How can respond to his call in my life? How can I take a minute to reflect on Jesus’ ways so I don’t respond negatively to other people? Can I start the New Year by seeing on the good in others?

Blessings to you all,

Fr. Ron

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