Sunday 24 January 2021

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B

Word for today
The Gospel of Mark 1:14-20


When you have thought about it, it is late. When you think, it is either in the past or in the future. When we think about life, commitments, problems, relationships we do so putting the images of our interior dialogue in the past or future. We do not take notice, it is something we have been used to doing since the time we were born, it is such an acquired and familiar mental mechanism  that we are not even aware of it. It takes time, a great deal of discipline and much silence -prayerful silence - just to begin to become aware of it. Every mental argument, everything we write in our heart, every thought coming from our conscious or unconscious is in the past or in the future. In the face of the wonderful or unhappy things that happen to us we ask the same mental question: how long will it last?
The mind goes to the past when it thinks about failures, to the errors and the ways we or others have of doing things that are not congenial to us. Even when we are celebrating  accomplishments the mind goes to the past to compare and to relive successes of the past or it projects to the future to foresee what will happen in the light of that achievement. The past and the future are the times of the human mind. This is true with regard to the majority of our thoughts, we are not even aware of what is going on but this is what happens.
But even if we are unable to recognize the process that we are using to project life into the past or future, there is one thing that we do feel. We can feel the sadness and the fear which are the emotional outcome of this process. Every thought, every type of thought, every interior dialogue, determines and immediately sets off an emotional reaction, an emotion, a mood. We are not aware of it it but every thought brings a particular emotion which determines at different times the state of our soul and of our heart. So even if it is difficult for us to understand and to feel the type of mental processing that we use to face reality, we can nevertheless with greater ease verify the state of our soul and the emotions that dance in our heart.
The past procures senses of guilt; the future anxiety. These emotions are what tells us how we are positioned mentally and how we force our heart to live.
Tension, psychic pressure, agitation, irritation, restlessness are children of anxiety, of a mental process for the most part projected towards the future, to what will come. Lack of self-confidence, uncertainty, doubt, embarrassment, hesitation, distrust are children of guilt feelings, of a mental process for the most part projected towards the past.
When our mind is locked in the past or stuck in the future, it suffers, it suffers bitterly because the spirit in us is made in the image and likeness of God and was created and programmed, as it were, in the present. The spirit knows no reality but the present, it is linked only to the present, to the reality of what is now. Our spirit is unable even to conceive of the fact that the  past and  future exist, because they do not exist, the spirit is not programmed to conceive, to see, to understand, to face what does not exist, what is not here now.
The past does not exist anymore, the future does not exist yet, and nevertheless they are considered real, influential pieces of information by our mind; the past and the future have the power to destroy a man and a woman even in a short span of time. The death of a man lays in considering and facing as real that which is not and, vice versa,  considering unreal that which is real. Almost all of human suffering can be traced to this deception because we consider real and important and dedicate energy and time to realities that are inexistent and, on the contrary, we do not recognize real, fundamental realities because we consider them unreal and inexistent.
The anxiety and fear, the guilt feelings and the frenzy that characterize our lives tell us a lot about how our minds reason in the face of the the present and of realty.
Only reality and the present exist for our spirit; there is nothing else to love, to face, to know or to understand, even when reality and the present are not congenial to us and we are not pleased with them. The present is here and it is the only thing that there is. The present is reality, that which is taking place now. Now, at this moment, immediately, here, belong to the grammar of reality, it is the time-place of life, the time and the place where life takes place and God manifests himself and makes himself known. To communicate with mankind God has no other possibility than the present, in reality: a reality that can be terrible or lovely, but only the present reality exists and in the present reality everything can be changed and modified. Only in reality is it possible to intervene and to live.
This is the time of fulfillment, the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the joyous announcement. The text is in the present, Jesus is speaking in the present tense, he asks and proposes in the present. In the words of Jesus the reign of God is a present reality, not a a dream that will come. The time is fulfilled, there is no past, there is no future. Past and future exist only in our minds, therefore they do not exist at all. The proposal made by Jesus is entirely in the present, it is always in the present, it is always here and now, it is never later or somewhere else, because later and somewhere else do not exist and that which does not exist does not belong to God's kingdom.
Repent and believe in the joyous announcement. The proposal is entirely in the present, the announcement made by Jesus is always in the present time of God the Father and of the divine life that we have received. One repents and believes now, not later or tomorrow. Here and now, in this place and not somewhere else. Here is the place where the conversion of our mentality can take place, now is the time to believe and understand, to adhere to the gospel: there is no other moment  that is  truer or more powerful. Here and now it is possible to live at our work places or at home, resting in the dumps or exalted, poor or rich, healthy or sick, alone or with others, loved or betrayed - but here and now.
Here and now is the place and the time to change our mentality and to adhere to the gospel to be happy. We can, we must. Here and now. The smile is now if you decide to put it on you face, the joy is now, changing your thoughts is now, a prayer is now, a hug is right away.
The proposal made by Jesus is stupendously in the present and in this case, which is rare in the gospel, even the answer follows the same rhythm: the rhythm of the present. Living and answering life in the present acquires a new musicality, a completely different rhythm, the rhythm and the harmony of the life of God, in God, for God.
At once, the text says, the fishermen left their nets and followed him. In that "at once" a miracle takes place so distant from the ways of the human mind that needs to control, think, redistribute, program, or calculate.
At once follows the rhythm of God and of love, the rhythm of life that goes forward inexorably towards joy. The disciples' response in this case is the rhythm of God: now and immediately. It is musical, in tune, and harmoniously perfect. At once does not imply being in a hurry, agitated, or consumed with performance anxiety, heartless zealotry, or adhesion without having made a real choice. At once indicates fulfillment, the power of yes, of adhesion without calculations and regrets. It indicates the yes of love that must never arrive late. It indicates the absence of judgment and prejudice, the absence of calculation and expectations, doubts and fears. At once is the time and the music of the Holy Virgin Mary. At once and now is the rhythm of God, of the Holy Paraclete: it is the music of realty.
God loves immediately, he forgives now, he rescues always and instantly. He creates today and speaks now and to everyone trhough the present and reality.
Immediately, now, at this moment is the timing of God, without past or future, without guilty feelings or anxiety. The gospel lives and makes people live in God's time; no matter how difficult or strange the present may be, it is the only possibility we have to be happy.