Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

 

Sunday Church at Home

during lockdown in the Coronavirus Pandemic

 

 

Sunday of the Word of God.

Rite of Enthroning the Bible in the Family

 

To show that God is at the centre of our lives, we can enthrone the Bible, the Word of God, in a visible place in our homes. By placing the Sacred Scriptures in a prominent place decorated with flowers and art, and by gathering at this spot for daily prayer, families show that God is present and active through his Word.

This Sunday is the “Sunday of the Word of God” we encourage all families to Enthrone the Bible in your homes.

Simply pick a place where the Bible can be honoured. The Bible should be placed where it will be seen regularly, but the location should be apart from the place of the family entertainment. Place the Bible, opened to a favourite passage or the readings of the day, on a table or shelf. Decorate the area around the Bible with a cloth, flowers, and/or a candle—whatever brings the spiritual atmosphere.

Things to Prepare:

  • Bible
  • A shelf or table where the Bible will be placed (the shelf may be adorned with a cloth, flowers, and candles.)

How to proceed

When possible, the ritual may start outside the main door to the house or outside the main entrance to the room. One member of the family holds the Bible, raised slightly.

 

Leader:           Pope Francis has declared that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is also the Sunday of the Word of God. It is a day for the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God. This will help the Church to experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of his word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world. Today we enthrone the Bible, the Word of God, in a visible place in our homes to show that God is present and active through his Word.

 

The leader begins the celebration with the opening litany:

 

Leader:          Our Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Word of the Father.

Response:   Come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

Leader:          You became one with us to tell of the Father’s love.

Response:   Come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

Leader:          You are the light that shines in the darkness.

Response:   Come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

Leader:          You save us from fear and break the bonds of sin and death.

Response:   Come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

Leader:          You come to guide our steps and lead us to God.

Response:   Come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

Leader:          You are the Word of eternal life.

Response:   Come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

Leader:          You fill us with the Holy Spirit.

Response:   Come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

As everyone enters the house or room, they may sing a suitable hymn.

Chorus:
Oh the word of my Lord, deep within my being.
Oh the word of my Lord, you have filled my mind.

Before I formed you in the womb,
I knew you through and through
I chose you to be mine
Before you left your mother’s side
I called to you, my child, to be my sign.

Chorus:
Oh the word of my Lord, deep within my being.
Oh the word of my Lord, you have filled my mind.

I know that you are very young,
but I will make you strong
– I’ll fill you with my word,
and you will travel through the land
fulfilling my command, which you have heard.

Chorus:
Oh the word of my Lord, deep within my being.
Oh the word of my Lord, you have filled my mind.

 

Then the Reader proclaims the following passage from Scripture (Neh 8: 1-3.6.8)

A reading from the book of Nehemiah.

And all the people gathered in the square before the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the Lord had given to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law.

And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God; and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands; and they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. And they read from the book, from the law of God, clearly; and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.

 

The word of the Lord.

 

After the reading, the leader places the Bible in the place prepared for it. All bow deeply before the enthroned Bible.

 Leader:

We have heard your words, Jesus. They give us joy and bring light and truth into our lives. Your presence gives us peace in our troubled and divided world. Let your Word create in our hearts a deep desire for you. Be with us in our hearts and homes, in our community and country. Give us your Holy Spirit to help us to understand your Word. We enthrone this Holy Bible in our midst. Make your Word the centre of our lives. May your Word inspire all that we think and say and do. May your Word bind us together in unity with each other and with you, today and forever.

 

All:  Amen.

 All pray together:

We promise to respect the Word of God in our midst.
We shall read and reflect on it as a family of God.
May we draw from it inspiration for our decisions,
strength for our work,
and comfort in suffering.
Jesus, help us to be faithful to our promise,
you who live forever and ever.
Amen.

 

We continue with the Liturgy of the Word.

 

 LITURGY OF THE WORD

 

First Reading: Jonah 3:1-5.10

 

Introduction to the reading: The Book of Jonah is only two pages long and tells a parable about a man called by God to preach repentance to the pagan city of Nineveh.  Jonah’s first response was to sail as fast as he could in the other direction.  After his adventures with a large fish, God called him a second time.  Today’s passage picks it up from there.

 

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Jonah

The word of the Lord came to Jonah saying,
“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city,
and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.”

So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh,
according to the word of the Lord.
Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city,
three days’ journey in breadth.
Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey.
And he cried, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
And the people of Nineveh believed God;
they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth,
from the greatest of them to the least of them.

When God saw what they did,
how they turned from their evil way,
God repented of the evil
which he had said he would do to them;
and he did not do it.

The word of the Lord.

 

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 25:4-5ab.6 and 7bc.8-9 (R. 4a)

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm.

 

R/. O Lord, make me know your ways.

 

O Lord, make me know your ways.
Teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth, and teach me;
for you are the God of my salvation.

 

Remember your compassion, O Lord,
and your merciful love,
for they are from of old.
In your merciful love remember me,
because of your goodness, O Lord.

 

Good and upright is the Lord;
he shows the way to sinners.
He guides the humble in right judgment;
to the humble he teaches his way.

 

R/. O Lord, make me know your ways.

 

 

Second reading: 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Introduction to the reading: In this section of the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul responds to written questions they had sent to him.  Some questions had to do with how we, who believe in the next life, should relate to the things of this life.  Paul expected that Jesus would return in glory soon, so he gives some advice which we hear in this reading.

 

A reading from the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians.

I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown very short;
from now on,
let those who have wives live as though they had none,
and those who mourn as though they were not mourning,
and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing,
and those who buy as though they had no goods,
and those who deal with the world
as though they had no dealings with it.
For the form of this world is passing away.

The word of the Lord.

 

Alleluia, alleluia.
The kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel.

Alleluia!

 

Gospel: Mark 1:14-20

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark

After John (the Baptizer) was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee,
preaching the Gospel of God, and saying,
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;
repent, and believe in the gospel.”

And passing along by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon
casting a net in the sea;
for they were fishermen.
And Jesus said to them,
“Follow me and I will make you become fishers of people.”
And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
And going on a little farther,
he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother,
who were in their boat mending the nets.
And immediately he called them;
and they left their father Zebedee in the boat
with the hired servants,
and followed him.

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

 

Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

 

Homily

“After John the Baptizer had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee preaching the gospel of God….”

These simple opening lines can easily be passed over too lightly. We want to “get to the story.” But we “get to the story” by paying attention to what may seem like a simple introductory phrase: “After John the Baptizer had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee preaching the gospel of God….” Now that the Baptizer is arrested we know what, by Herod’s order, will soon happen to him.

So, the atmosphere is fraught with danger for anyone who follows after John. If the popular and influential John could be immobilized and then executed – what could Jesus expect?

With John gone, the attention now shifts to the one about whom John has been proclaiming: “One mightier than I is coming after me.” Jesus is announcing the reign of God. This certainly will attract the attention of those waiting for God to come to their aid – the poor, outcasts, sinners and the neglected.

But the message will also attract the anger of religious and political powers who don’t want their world of privilege threatened. Hostile and suspicious eyes will soon focus on this upstart preacher who seems to have stepped into John’s shoes coming from, of all places, Galilee.

We think about the time when Jesus was facing his Passion in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was, “filled with fear and distress” (14:34).

There, Jesus prayed, “If it were possible this hour might pass him by” (14: 35) and he beseeched, “Abba, you have the power to do all things. Take this cup away from me” (14:36).

Jesus’ agony shows a human reaction to an approaching painful death. Jesus could have left the garden and his mission behind. But he was free to withdraw from his mission long before the choice placed before him in the garden. Instead, Jesus made choices all during his ministry to accept what was coming.

He had to notice how his words and deeds were infuriating religious leaders who had connections with the Roman occupying forces. Each time he decided to keep teaching his message of God’s welcome to sinners; each time he ate with outcasts and called the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites, Jesus was deciding again to be faithful to his call to proclaim God’s reign. But he was also taking another step that would seal his fate with the authorities – another step towards his big decision in Gethsemane, to accept what awaited him.

Throughout our lives we each face many decisions.

These choices are often small, daily and seeming inconsequential in light of the overall picture of our lives. But, in reality, the daily choices are important; they either further confirm our life’s path, or they take us away from it – one step at a time. For Christians, who have heard the invitation, “Come follow me…,” the daily choices either identify us as Jesus’ followers, or they don’t.

If we spend our lives “going with the flow,” never speaking a contrary word when an issue of fairness, or justice is raised; never taking a stand to defend a person wronged, or a cause we hold sacred; never risking love, then, step after step, we have pretty well decided to ignore the call to be a follower of Jesus.

Many of us, at some moment our lives, will have to make a big decision for right or wrong; for integrity, or selfishness. When that moment comes, how we have been choosing on a daily basis, will determine how we hold up under the big test.

Jesus makes a decision to enter the public arena and fulfill his calling, despite the risks. It may not seem like a big event at this moment; he hasn’t gone before the crowds in Jerusalem, he is still in the lower division. But he is already preparing for his final “Yes” in the garden of Gethsemane.

Jesus left the wilderness area and began preaching in the towns and villages. He is not a hermit who retreats to the wilderness to rid himself of “the evils of society.” Rather, he goes to where people live and work. That’s where Simon, Andrew, James and John were, at work. There he delivers his invitation.

Where do we expect to hear God’s call? Out in a remote desert, or up in the mountains? Where do we expect to hear the call to live a new, or more committed life? Do we expect to be on our knees before the Blessed Sacrament on a silence-filled retreat?

The Lord knows we could use more of those moments! But most of our lives don’t provide a lot of time for going out into the desert or to a remote mountain; nor do we have the luxury of a lot of silence to hear our “inner voices.” These pandemic days have been a terrible strain on people and families. But some say there has been a surprised blessing for them. They have had some time for quiet, reading and prayer. How fortunate to have found that blessing in all this mess and anguish!

From the beginning, Jesus made daily decisions to follow God’s will and proclaim the reign of God. From the beginning he would also have known that his daily decision to be faithful to his mission would eventually put him on a collision course with the authorities of religion and state.

Today we are asked to respond once again to follow Jesus and be his witnesses in the world.

We ask for the same Spirit that came upon Jesus in the Jordan when he was baptized by John. This Spirit will strengthen and confirm our resolve to follow Jesus; for on our own, we might take the short cuts that tempt us each day and that eventually get us to follow another voice on another path.

But with the Spirit as our guide, we will take the steps that lead us to respond daily to Jesus’ invitation, “Repent and believe in the gospel.”

From today’s Gospel reading:

As Jesus passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother casting their nets into the sea….

Jesus said to them, “Come after me and I will make you fishers of people.”

Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.

Reflection:

We hear Jesus’ invitation, “Come follow me,” each day, as life presents us with choices. Shall we forgive when asked? Shall we help someone in need? Shall we buy less for ourselves and give more to the poor? Shall we see the injustice or turn a blind eye? In these, and so many other occasions, we hear the same invitation Jesus made to those fishermen and like them, we put other considerations aside to follow him.

So we ask ourselves:

  • What recent choices have I made that show my desire to follow Christ?
  • What changes do I have to make in my life to follow him more fully?

 

 

Prayer of the Faithful

 

Leader:          We turn in prayer to God, asking the Lord to be with us at every moment of our lives.

 

Reader:

We pray for our Church, and especially for all those who are training for the priesthood or religious life: (pause) may the person of Christ himself inspire and guide them.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for our world, especially for all who feel lost or abandoned, those who are homeless and those seeking employment: (pause) that they may find support in those who gather round them and listen to their plight.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for a greater love for the Word of God: (pause) that we may take time to read, ponder and pray with the scriptures so that we may deepen our relationship with God and take on the mind and heart of Christ.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for all our young people as they try and discern a way forward in their lives: (pause) that  they may experience the presence of Christ and his Holy Spirit as a loving inspiration and support in their deliberations.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for a successful vaccination program: (pause) that delays by the government will be overcome, as we work towards opening pathways for the distribution of the vaccines.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for deceased members of our families and friends whose anniversaries occur about this time, especially for Edwin and Josephine Cowley, Tracy Hendry and Heather Kirk. LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for Joan Gordon-Davis, who died during the week.
Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord.

 

And let perpetual light shine on her.

May she rest in peace.  Amen.

 

Leader:          Let us pray for healing:

 

Loving God,

Your desire is for our wholeness and well being.

We hold in tenderness and prayer

the collective suffering of our world at this time.

We grieve precious lives lost

and vulnerable lives threatened.

We ache for ourselves and our neighbours,

standing before an uncertain future.

We pray: may love, not fear, go viral.

Inspire our leaders to discern and choose wisely,

aligned with the common good.

Help them to overcome the delays in the distribution of the vaccines.

Help us to practice social distancing and reveal to us new and creative ways to come together in spirit and in solidarity.

Call us to profound trust in your faithful presence,

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

 

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us.

 

My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul at least spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I actually receive you. Amen.

 

 

CONCLUDING RITE

 

Leader:          Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

 

All say:          Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader:           Your sovereign rule, O God,
draws near to us
in the person of Jesus your Son.
Your word summons us to faith,
your power transforms our lives.

Free us to follow in Christ’s footsteps,
so that neither human loyalty
nor earthly attachment
may hold us back from answering your call.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen.

 

 

Blessing

 

A leader who is a layperson, using no gesture, says:

 

Leader:          May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

 

All:                  Amen.

 

All:                 Amen.