3RD Sunday in Ordinary Time (B); 1-25-15
Jon 3:1-5,10; Ps 25; 1 Cor 7:29-31; Mk 1:14-21
Deacon Jim McFadden; Folsom Prison
Twelve years ago, I was preparing a convict at Minimum Facility for his confirmation on Christmas Day, which was presided by Bishop Garcia. He was so excited but wanted to stay focused on his pending Confirmation. “What should I meditate on?” he blurted. I encouraged him to trust the movement of his heart and perhaps reflect on how the Lord is calling him to a deeper level of adult faith and commitment. I encouraged him to reflect on when he first heard that call, how he discerned what the Lord wanted, and how he has been changed in the process. We talked about each one. So, here we are at Maximum C-facility, I’d like to ask the same of you.
The Invitation. Discipleship is not something we take upon ourselves. It is an invitation from God. In the first reading the Ninevites heard the call from the preaching of Jonah. They believed God and responded by proclaiming “a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth” (3:5). So, the call came from the ordinary preaching of Jonah. Every Sunday we hear a homily; since we’re familiar with the readings, we can get lulled into complacency, which may deceive us into misjudging its significance. The call you’ve received from God probably came from your ordinary experience. But, be assured that however you received your call from God it is a very big deal because you are being invited to join the Lord in bringing about the Kingdom of God here at Folsom Prison.
The Discerning Process. The second stage of this process is discovering what the Lord is saying to us. The call to discipleship is a profound moment of religious experience because the Holy Spirit is bursting into our lives, and today’s gospel from Mark shows how it happens. Jesus approaches two sets of brothers who are fishermen. Jesus is encountering them in their ordinary lives. He simply says, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men” (1:17). That’s it: simple, to the point; this is what I want you to do. And, they do it because “they left their nets—their comfort and security systems—and followed him” (1:18). The same thing happened to James and John. They, too said “yes” to the attractive figure of Christ Jesus. Brothers, are you willing to leave those external things that give you a temporary sense of identity. Are you willing to leave everything to follow Jesus?
The Resulting Transformation. As we make a conscious, firm decision to follow Jesus in our ordinary experience no matter where we are living, we will be radically changed because we will be abiding in his presence. Brothers, by virtue of our baptism, we are called to participate in Christ’s mission to bring about the Kingdom of God. That means you give witness here at C-facility or wherever you may be transferred. You can only do that by staying connected to Jesus—by abiding in His presence. You can do that by being with him in prayer and through grace, strive to follow his example. In so doing you will be transformed as you come closer to our Lord by imitating his way of being.
People of God if you do not strive to help bring about the Kingdom of God at Folsom Prison, who will? You are called to participate in the Kingdom and to pass that creative energy of God’s love here and now. God needs you to make your prison culture a better place to be or, to put it biblically, to restore creation—to raise the consciousness of your fellow inmates that they have intrinsic value because they are made in the Image of God and are a unique and precious child of God.
To accept this invitation means to repent just as the Ninevites did. It means reestablishing your priorities. What can never be lost sight of is that you are the recipients of a divine invitation to build a better world through whatever is your specific path. And, as you fully, actively, and consciously participate in this call to discipleship, you will be changed into a new person. As you proclaim through your life example that the Risen Christ is Lord, you will be conformed into his peace and joy. What a challenge and what a glorious honor this is! Praise God!!