Third Sunday of Ordinary Time


I envy Jesus’ self-awareness. He knew himself through and through. Even as a boy found by his parents in the temple, he “was about his Father’s business.” Once in Mark’s gospel, people were flocking to him to hear his teaching and be cured of their illnesses. But when he had the chance, he slipped away, out into the desert. The disciples “managed to track him down” saying to him, “Everyone is looking for you!” In other words, you are popular. Jesus’ response? “We are leaving (this town) to preach the good news of God’s love. THAT is what I have come to do.”

And in today’s gospel from Luke, we hear that confident self-knowledge. He returns to his hometown, with the reputation, not of a carpenter, but of a prophet and healer. Walking directly into the temple, he lays his cards on the table with his family and friends. He reads from Isaiah, declaring that he is the one anointed to “bring glad tidings to the poor, liberty to captives, sight to the blind, liberty to the oppressed…” He never did NOT know himself, which is why I envy him. Perhaps we all should.

We spend a lifetime struggling to know who we are, and our identity continuously changes. We move from child to teen to adult to spouse to parent to grandparent, all the while evolving, changing into someone new, something different. But at the core, the “me of me” can I tell anyone who asks who I am, what I am to be about, what I was put on this earth to do? That can be a difficult challenge. All of us wonder from time to time about God’s plan for us, what He wants us to do with the life that He has given us. I think the answer begins with the question, “What is the most true thing about myself?” When I was a vocation director, and young men were struggling to know if it was God’s will for them to become a priest, I would ask them, “What is your passion? What is the one thing that, when you are in the midst of it, you never tire of doing?” The most true thing about yourself. Such an answer can only be found through quiet reflection and it is something we all must do.

So I return to last weeks’ New Year’s resolution: one hour (maybe just ½ hour for the really busy people!) of quiet time to be alone with your thoughts and your God. And now we’ve got a topic to begin the conversation with: What is the most true thing about myself.

Fr. Jim