In the Game

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

January 17, 2021 – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - John 1:35-42

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I grew up near a neighborhood park. Most days the boys living close by would gather in the park for games of baseball, football and the like. This was before sports for kids were organized. But there were still rules for play. Two kids, usually older ones, were designated as captains and they would choose their team from those standing around. Being chosen first was everyone’s hope. Being the last one picked – well, not so good. Still, being chosen was of value. It meant you were going to play.

Today’s gospel described how Jesus began what was called his public ministry. Certainly one option might be that he would strike out on his own, preach about God and capture the attention of people by his good actions, especially on behalf of those in need. But that wasn’t how he wanted it to be. He wanted others to help in spreading the Good News about God’s reign on earth that was then beginning. And to show what it was like by their lives.

So, he chose a variety of individuals to help him. Among the first were those whom John the Baptist had attracted. Peter and Andrew are singled out and were told that they should connect with Jesus. But Jesus did not have an organized school or system to join. It was simply him. The gospel succinctly states that his first disciples just stayed with him that first day. It does not mention what they talked about or anything they did. It was enough simply to be with Jesus and get to know his ways.

Thus began the public mission and ministry of Jesus. And what’s important is that right from the beginning Jesus was not a soloist, but rather worked as part of a community. And to this very day, he continues to choose new disciples to carry on the work of God on earth. Invitations to join continue to be sent out. And the big question that each of us should ask is this: Am I too being called to help in this great work of God, begun with Jesus and those first disciples? Am I to be today’s Peter or Andrew, Martha or Mary? Or to put it another way, does God need me to be a part of that great work of bringing greater love and service to the world that was God’s intent right from the beginning?

And where might I exercise my discipleship? The answer is partly found in today’s gospel. Go where Jesus is. Go to where there is human need. A need for help in times of difficulty. A need for love in times of loneliness. A need for comfort in times of distress. This can happen in family settings. In workplaces. In neighborhoods. Anywhere, in fact, you find yourself. We are all invited to play in God’s game of living with justice, peace and love.

©David M. Thomas, PhD

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