What is the Core of Our Mission?

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 8:23-9:3

First the Lord degraded the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the end he has glorified the seaward road, the land west of the Jordan, the District of the Gentiles. Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness: for there is no gloom where but now there was distress. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, as they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as people make merry when dividing spoils. For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.

1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17

I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters, by Chloe's people, that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you is saying, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.

Matthew 4:12-23

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen. From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him. He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.

The reading for this Sunday is one of the most lyrical and beautiful passages in the Gospel. It is the story of Jesus calling the first disciples. The story is right and peaceful. It gets at the very heart of Jesus’ life and work, revealing what He is about. He comes into the world as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, a representative from the community that is God—and thus His fundamental purpose is to draw the world into community around Him.

“He said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men’” (Mt.4:19). There is so much packed into this simple line. Notice the way how God acts. He is the initiative of grace, just like the Father of the Prodigal Son who “ran to his son” (Lk 15:20). In a similar way, Jesus comes out, and He approaches the first disciples in a very direct way. He is not offering a doctrine, a theology, nor a set of beliefs, but rather He is offering himself, and inspires them saying, “Follow me, and walk behind me, become my disciple, apprentice to me”.

The most important part of living a Christian life is to walk after Jesus, to fall in love with Him, and to turn one’s life over to Him. It is not mainly be about adhering to a system of beliefs (even though this is important), but primarily, it is about cultivating a friendship with a person. Christianity is falling in love with God who is the great family of love, and Jesus is to bring this power of love and communion into this broken world. Therefore, the act by which Jesus gathers people around Himself is essential to His life and His work. He is “breaking” into this world, and is fishing us out of the place of darkness, hatred, violence, self-reproach, and guilt. He wants to lead us out of this world into His own; like the first disciples, those who fall in love with Him are going to heed the call to do exactly what He does. They also want to fish people out of the darkness and brokenness. This is also the task of our Church, to be converted to Christ, and to come after Him. Evangelization, proclaiming the faith, and drawing people to Christ, is not an option. That is the heart of the matter! In Fountain of Love and Life, it is the core of our mission, “to stir into flame the gift of God” (2 Tim1:6). Our obligation is to fish them, and to draw them to Christ. This is absolutely essential for all believers, not just for some people in the Church to worry about. All of us should become fishers of people!

“Immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him” (Mt 4:22). Jesus has stirred the “Imago Dei” in them, the image and likeness of God, and they say “Yes”! This is what their life is about; to follow Him, to be like Him, to be fishers of people. Let the Lord stirs the same image of God in us so that we may follow Him. Let us give up everything and make Him the center of our life.

This is an excerpt from Bishop Robert Barron’s homilies, including “Following The Lord”, “They Abandoned Everything”, and “The Irresistible Call”. For more information, please visit WordOnFire.org.

Posted: January 26, 2020

Ben Cheng


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