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3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 1:14-20

The introductions are complete: the scene is set. Jesus is about to commence his public ministry, his work of preaching, healing and forgiving which will lead finally to his Passion, Death and glorious Resurrection. This is the way by which we were saved. As the Son of God, the Incarnate Word, Jesus could have done all the work for our salvation by himself: he didn’t need the help of Simon and Andrew, James and John. So why did Our Lord call them to come and follow him?

He did it because he wanted to form his Church. He knew that when his work on earth was complete he would go back to the Father in heaven, but it was necessary that that work continue on earth. He wanted there to be a place on earth for all time where anyone could go and be assured that they would hear his teachings being proclaimed, and share in the outpourings of his Spirit. And so in the Gospel we read of how he gave shape to the Church that was to be his Body on earth, and there is a special significance in the forming of the Apostles. In the future they would have a special mission of representing Christ to the world, of passing on the teachings he had given them, of sanctifying the people by the example of their lives even to the point of being martyred, and of wisely governing the Church as it began to spread further abroad.

Jesus meant for the Apostles to continue his mission, and for the mission to continue for all ages. So the Apostles chose men they considered worthy and through the laying on of hands, ordained them to the sacred ministry which the Lord had given them. Because of this every Church would have a Bishop who could trace his lineage back to the Twelve, and would be the guarantor for his people that they were within the Church that Jesus had founded.

We all know only too well that this great ideal has not always worked out in practice. The name of Bishop has been dragged through the mud for many different reasons, and the task for the ‘fishers of men’ is probably more difficult now than ever before. But this Sunday let us keep in mind how it was in the beginning, when those first Bishops were called from the Sea of Galilee, and remember how precious they are to Our Lord. Let us pray for our Bishops, that they will always listen for the Lord’s command, and light up the way to heaven, through all the storms and upheavals, for all of us who are trying to follow him. 

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