Sunday Reflection

Let us Dream like Jesus (Mark 1:14-20)

At the height of the Covid 19 epidemic, Pope Francis, with the assistance of journalist Austen Ivereigh, published a book entitled “Let us Dream.”  In his dream for a better world, he was following his Master, Jesus, who began his public mission by proclaiming his dream which he called the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:15-20).  He dreamt of life on earth being a mirror of heaven.  It’s not a million miles away, he said, as this Kingdom is very close … if only we would repent, that is, change our way of thinking and living so as to commit ourselves to his Gospel News.

There is another way of living.  Instead of the nightmare of war, Jesus spoke of brothers and sisters in the one family of God.  Instead of bitterness and retaliation, there is a love that refuses to be embittered and inspires one to pray for the oppressor.  In place of the spectre of famine which will always haunt a greedy, grasping world, he spoke of serving God through feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and sheltering the homeless.  In place of the murky deeds of darkness, Jesus wants all of life to reflect the light of heaven.  “Father, your be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  Wherever God’s will holds sway, there God is king.  And that is the dream of Jesus, the Kingdom of God on earth.

Taskforce

Every dream needs a taskforce for its implementation. Immediately after proclaiming the closeness of God’s Kingdom, Jesus called his first followers.  The brothers, Peter and Andrew, fishermen, were casting their nets.  “Follow me,” he said, “and I will make you catchers of people.”  Another pair of brothers, James and John, were in their boat mending  nets.  “Follow me and I will make you menders of people.”  Casting nets represents mission, while mending nets means maintenance.

These fishermen were ordinary folk called to an extraordinary task: the first hint of the large community of followers, later known as the Church, the taskforce of the kingdom.

Ordinary People

All this happened at Capernaum.  Visiting the Holy Land, I was surprised at how small the town had been.  I should have known better, for has it not always been God’s way to choose the weak to confront the strong, and simple, ordinary folk to confront the worldly leaders?  Pope Francis reminds us that the Beatitudes are the identity card of a Christian. The Church is to be the taskforce of the Kingdom but it is important to remember the words of Saint Augustine that there are many in the Church who do not belong to the Kingdom while there are many in the Kingdom who are not in the Church.  Isn’t it a pity when the Church tends to forget its humble origins?  When it becomes triumphal and bossy.  When it rewards itself by aping the conceits of worldly power in wealthy establishments, and the titles and trappings of self-importance.  When it promotes careers to the detriment of humble service as the taskforce of the dream of Jesus, a Kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace

The Church I Love

While we are shocked when scandals from the past are uncovered, we must remember that there are far more flowers than weeds in the garden of the Church.  The Church that I love produces holy, prayerful people, deeply in love with God.  And it has always been the mother of the greatest workers for the Kingdom, implementing the dream of Jesus:  caring and educating, peace-making and developing a sense of community, nursing and serving, beautifying and protecting, striving for justice and challenging tyranny.  One survey estimates that 80% of charitable organizations were founded by practising Catholics.  Think of Vincent de Paul, Simon Community, Threshold, Mary’s Meals, Trócaire, Concern, food centres etc.  This is the Church of ordinary people humbly serving God’s dream of love for the world.

If you have a book-token since Christmas, treat yourself to Pope Francis’ book, Let us Dream.   Dreamers see a new way of living, a way of making this world a better place.

The Kingdom of God is close to you.  Think again and believe in the Gospel.

Responsorial Psalm

Lord, make me know your ways.

Lord, teach me your paths.

Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:

for you are God my saviour.

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