How would You Answer Christ’s Call,
A Reflection for the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, 2020 By Rev. Fr. Bob Johnnene OFM
Mission Sts. Sergius and Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy Of the Reformed Catholic Church
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Based on Isaiah 8:23 - 9:3, Psalm 27,  1 Corinthians 1:10 - 17, Matthew 4:12 - 23

Today’s Gospel is the story of Christ calling the first apostles to follow him and how they dropped everything on the spot
to do so. It had me wonder firstly on how I, or anyone in this the twenty first Century would respond to Christ’s call and
secondly what was it about Christ that common men left everything to follow a very poor carpenter.
A hint might be found in the words of the prophet Isaiah from the first reading for this Sunday “in days to come he will
confer glory on the Way of the Sea on the far side of Jordan, province of the nations. The people that walked in darkness
have seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone.”; and from St. Paul’s letter to the
Corinthians that explains what Christ was teaching those first followers and continues to call us to do.
Repeatedly, week after week, we hear how Christ fulfilled all the prophecies that foretold of the coming of the messiah,
this week is no different.  The prophet Isaiah refers to the one to come, Christ, as “a great light” one that will bring those
who walk in darkness into the light.”
Christ did indeed bring light into a world full of darkness and gloom, not unlike the world we live in today.  
In order for that light to break through Christ had to take on the pain and suffering of rejection and doubt and ultimately die
the ignominious death of a criminal on the cross just so we could achieve the forgiveness of our sins and transgressions
and have the opportunity to gain eternal life free of pain and suffering.
Christ began by exhorting all to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand”
Today, in a world where there is more emphasis on worldly things and less emphasis on living according to the teachings
of Christ and giving God a portion of our daily time, we need to reflect on what Christ brought to us and how he instructed
us to live.
Recently, Pope Francis, The Bishop of Rome and the successor of St. Peter had this to say about society today; “ We
must despoil ourselves or we will become pastry Christians, like beautiful cakes, like beautiful sweet thing. Very lovely,
but not Christians really! Someone might say: But of what must the Church despoil herself? “ She must despoil herself
today of a very grave danger, which threatens every person in the Church, which threatens al people: the danger of
A Christian cannot coexist with the spirit of the world; worldliness that leads us to vanity, to arrogance, to pride. And this
is an idol, it’s not God. It’s an idol! And idolatry is the strongest sin!
The Church is all of us, every Baptized man, woman and child.  And all of us must despoil ourselves of this worldliness: it
is a contrary spirit to the spirit of the Beatitudes, contrary to the spirit of Jesus.
We must despoil ourselves of worldliness, which leads to vanity, pride, which is idolatry and sinful”.   The light that Christ
brought wiped away the darkness that enveloped the world by showing us that Love of God and love and respect of each
other and all God created was the way to live. He did not seek to gain the treasures of the world, but renounced them.
Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians could also be speaking to those of us who live in the world today “I appeal to you,
brothers, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, to make up the differences between you, and be united again in your belief
and practice.” This is another great sin that has overtaken the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, Separation due to
manmade rules, which often are in opposition to the teachings of Christ.
Man has taken the simple message of Love, charity, Compassion, and forgiveness that Christ preached.  Through the
years these manmade rules and regulations have divided the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church that those first apostles,
who today’s gospel story relates the calling of, formed based on the teachings they were given by Christ himself.  Many of
the disagreements that have split the Universal church apart have little to do with Christ’s teachings but who is in control
and sadly, obtaining power, wealth and often a life of luxury.  The current Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, has renounced
all the fancy garments, the elaborate lifestyle of the Vatican Palace very much as St. Francis of Assisi did whose name the
Pope chose to be called.
He has called his Cardinals, Bishops and priests to be “pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.
The bishops, particularly, must be able to support the movements of God among their people with patience, so that no
one is left behind. But they must also be able to accompany the flock that has a flair for finding new paths.
“In this globalized world,” the Pope said during his homily in July, “we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have
become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business!”
In my opinion events of recent years, one has to ponder if The Holy Spirit is attempting to awaken us to greater
possibilities of serving God and his ever-enlarging flock.
The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism acknowledges the action of the Holy Spirit in other denominations
(Ch. 1, Art. 3); and states "Whatever is wrought by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our separated brothers and
sisters can contribute to our own edification." (Ch. 1, Art. 4).
It would seem that Catholicism has something to learn in our journey toward true ecumenism.
With so much dissention and strife in this world, with poverty, hunger, and war claiming so many lives we need to return
to the ways Christ instructed.
We need to let His light illuminate the road we will travel, and use the truth of His teachings as our roadmap to bringing
about a time of brotherly love and Christian unity.  
Only by doing that we will again gather together as one united faith community in service to the  Father, Son and Holy
Spirit; and be living out the great commandments proclaimed by Christ “Love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart,
mind and soul, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”    We begin by accepting ourselves as God made us and
accepting the diversity that God created for purposes know to Him alone.   We are all children of God, Jew or Gentile,
Greek, Italian, Irish, Spanish or German, all are created by God and are His children, let us respect each other and love
each other as Christ instructed.
Let us not shut out the light that Christ brought to the world but let us allow the Holy Spirit, the enlightener, to open us up
to think beyond the status quo and realize that Christ challenged the norm of His day so we may well have to challenge
the norms of today.
Let us actively seek to find ways to, as St Paul advised to the Corinthians, “make up the differences that separate us”, and
seek out a way of unifying the entire Mystical Body of Christ.
I close this reflection with the words of Pope Francis: “have we done everything the Holy Spirit was asking us to do during
the Council,
The answer is “no,” “We celebrate this anniversary, we put up a monument but we don’t want it to upset us. We don’t
want to change and what’s more there are those who wish to turn the clock back.” This, is called stubbornness and
wanting to tame the Holy Spirit.”
The Pope said the same thing happens in our personal lives. “The Spirit pushes us to take a more evangelical path, but we
resist this.”   "Submit to the Holy Spirit,” he exhorted, “which comes from within us and makes go forward along the path
of holiness.”
Let us answer God’s call by allowing the holy Spirit to guide and lead us even when is will be difficult and force us to
change our views on what God wants. AMEN