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RCIA – The 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Vocation

January 23, 2011

Opening Prayer:

Responsorial Psalm Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate his temple.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

God of light, penetrate our hearts with your rays of truth and justice. Light the darkness in our lives and the gloom of this world with the light of your love. Open us to hear your call in the depth of our hearts today. Grant us the wisdom to understand your Word as we gather in your name. We ask this in the name of Jesus, Savior and Messiah. Amen.

Recall your first impressions of today’s Liturgy of the Word as you silently contemplate for a few moments on the centerpiece.

Now spontaneously complete the following sentences:

  • Today’s scriptures left me with a sense of …
  • I particularly noticed the phrase that went something like this…
  • The main insight I got from the whole experience of the Liturgy of the Word was …
  • In the homily I discovered …

Reading 2 1 Cor 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

This passage from 1 Corinthians describes one of the struggles that threatened to divide this early Christian community. Four competing groups of Christians claimed their leader was superior to the others. Paul realized that these divisions would destroy the very core of the gospel – the union in love that all are called to share “in Christ.” What is at stake is nothing less than the very nature of our Christian existence, rooted in our being immersed into the death-resurrection experience of Jesus in baptism. He is very clear, reminding them of their basic union in Christ, and anything which threatens to divide them strikes at the heart of their Christian vocation. The call to make unity with one another in Christ a priority, superseding human preferences, remains a challenge for Christians even today. (RCL)

Group discussion:

  • What situation in your life can be compared to the factions among the Christians of Corinth?
  • When has preference for one leader over another caused divisions in your experiences at home, work, or in community settings?
  • What does the phrase “union with one another in Christ” mean to you?
  • Name some of the things that tend to divide people today.

Our basic unity in Christ is preserved by the love that we have for one another. God expressed love for mankind by gifting us with His own self, made flesh in Jesus, who expressed this love in the contradiction of the cross. (RCL)

  • How can we express this love for one another in Christ?


Reading 1 Is 8:23-9:3-1

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.

Gospel Mt 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.

Silently reflect upon Jesus, the promised light, saying to us today “Reform your lives! The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

  • What significance do these scriptures have for you?

The darkness of the collapse of the Northern Kingdom of Israel is the image of gloom used to describe the Assyrian defeat of Zebulun and Naphtali. This put fear into the Southern Kingdom of Judah who thought that they would be next to fall. Amidst the feat of hostile forces, the prophet Isaiah offers Israel a word of hope. Light will break forth in the darkness, heavy yokes will be lifted, and the crushing rod of the oppressor will be smashed. This passage prepares the way for the gospel, which is Matthew’s description of the inauguration of Jesus’ public ministry. In fact, the gospel begins with a quotation from this passage of Isaiah. The writer intended to set up an aura of expectation and hope, for the messianic age ushered in by Jesus marked his universal mission. Jesus’ ministry begins in Galilee near the land of Zebulun and Naphtali along the sea in Gentile (heathen) territory. It is in Galilee that Jesus preaches his basic message of radical reform for the sake of the kingdom. The passage continues, describing a typical day in the life of Jesus’ ministry. He calls his disciples to abandon everything and follow him; travels throughout the region of Galilee; teaches in their synagogues; proclaims the Good News of the inauguration of God’s reign; and cures people of illness and disease. (RCL)

Our catechetical focus today on the notion of vocation is rooted, as we see, in the very structure of Jesus’ ministry, which he deliberately chose to share with those whom he called as his disciples. And the ministry of Jesus, in turn, sinks deep roots in the prophetic soil of Israel, as Matthew repeatedly demonstrates by his frequent mention that what happened with Jesus was “to fulfill what had been said” of old, in the Jewish scriptures. Jesus’ vocation is rooted in God’s call to Isaiah and all the prophets like him. Our vocation, in turn, is rooted in that of Jesus. (RCL)

  • What situations of darkness in your life cry out for the light of Christ?
  • What is Christ calling you to reform in your life, for the sake of the kingdom?
  • What are your expectations as you anticipate baptism or your profession of faith in the Catholic community?


Catholic Teaching – A Christian Vocation

  • In light of these scripture passages, what does it mean to be called to follow Jesus?

Another word for “call,” which is commonly used in the Catholic community, is “vocation.” The vocation or call of all believers derives from baptism. (RCL)

All people are called by God to share divine life and eternal happiness with God. In response to this relationship with God, the baptized are called to further the mission of Jesus in the world. The mission of Jesus is the mission not only of ordained and vowed priests, deacons, brothers and sisters, but also of all the baptized. (RCL) Jesus’ ministry was very active, and we too are called to action, to live charitably with our neighbor. (See Lumen Gentium 36.)

An image used by Pope John Paul II to portray this relationship is that of the vine and the branches. As members of the Church, we are in union with Christ and therefore with one another, bound together in love. (RCL) (See Christifideles Laici  #55&56.)

This love compels us to follow and imitate Jesus, using the unique gifts and graces, freely given to us by God, to build up the community of believers and proclaim the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection throughout the world. (RCL)

The call is a summons that comes in the ordinariness of daily living. It comes as a light illuminating our lived experiences to grace us with the wisdom to see the Good News of Jesus dying and rising with us, raising us out of darkness and death. The call flowers and bears fruit as we proclaim this Good News in word and in the holiness of our living to those we meet in the course of our ordinary lives. (RCL)

  • What new insights did you gain from hearing this Church teaching on vocation?
  • What implications does the call of the baptized have for you as you journey toward full initiation?


Putting Faith into Practice

The fact that you are here today means that you have been called, you have heard the Good News. God calls us in ordinary ways, sometime repeatedly calling us until we respond. Our response then is for the sake of the whole. We personally may only impact a few people around us, but that impact grows as they in turn impact others. We can change the world, one person at a time just as Jesus did.

  • How have you had the Good News proclaimed to you?

Reflect for a moment on your call to carry on the mission of Jesus.

Closing Prayer:

God of light, you lift us out of the darkness of sin and the gloom of our fears by sending your Son Jesus to die and rise for us. We proclaim the Good News that Jesus dies with us each time we die through failure, suffering, or despair. Through the power of his marvelous resurrection, he gathers us and lifts us up out of the trials of this life and we are renewed and reformed. We are a graced and gifted people, called to share our dyings and risings with others, that they may come to believe in the resurrection and the life. Strengthen us to live in holiness that we might bring your wonderful light into our world. Give us the courage to share our stories of Good News with those who seek the light. Abide with us as we journey in faith, anticipating the fountain of living waters and the table of living bread. Amen.

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