u-s-catholic-sunday-reflections

A reflection for the third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Jessie Bazan reflects on the readings for January 24, 2021.
Catholic Voices

Readings (Year B)

Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Psalms 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Mark 1:14-20

Reflection: Christian unity

This past August, a colleague and I gathered a group of pastoral leaders from eight Christian traditions on Zoom to discuss two pressing vocational questions:

How are you developing relationships with your neighbors? How are these relationships affecting your congregation’s sense of calling?

I smiled when, as ideas and insights burst forth, a Catholic priest said to a United Church of Christ pastor: “That’s an excellent idea. Mind if I borrow it?”

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Their collegiality reminds me that Christian discipleship is at its strongest when it is practiced together.  

These pastoral leaders have journeyed for the last two and a half years as participants in the Communities of Calling Initiative, an ecumenical effort aimed at helping Christian congregations deepen their sense of calling.

Each participant recognized the importance of being the church in the world today, a church that tends to the suffering, heals divisions, and responds boldly to the social needs of this moment. This is the work Jesus summoned out of his earliest disciples. It continues to be our shared calling as Christians.

During this week of prayer for Christian Unity, let us remember that Christian congregations share a common calling to be the hands and heart of Christ in the world today.

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Together, lay and ordained alike are called to be present in our communities, like Jesus was as he walked around the Sea of Galilee. We are called to notice our neighbors, both inside and outside of the congregation, like Jesus noticed his soon-to-be disciples Simon, Andrew, James, and John. We are called to celebrate these everyday fishers doing good work in the world and to discern how their gifts might contribute to the larger Gospel mission of the church.

The congregations I work with are living out this call to notice and then act in a host of meaningful ways:

  • An Orthodox church in North Carolina noticed parishioners with strong listening skills and invited them to participate in the parish’s healing ministry.
  • A Lutheran church in Missouri noticed the wisdom held by older members of the congregation and organized a summer internship for youth to listen to their stories.
  • An Episcopal church in Kentucky noticed the contemplative gifts of their Buddhist neighbors and developed a joint prayer for peace in the wake of Breonna Taylor’s murder. 
  • A United Church of Christ church in Colorado noticed the expertise of local doctors and invited them to speak to the congregation on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The examples could go on.

What stories of Gospel work might you lift up from your own congregation?

Inspired by today’s Gospel, let us reflect on our own callings and the callings of our church communities so that together as one Christian body, we might awaken the eyes of the world to see the kingdom of God at hand.


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About the author

Jessie Bazan

Jessie Bazan helps Christians explore their life callings in her work with the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research. She is editor and coauthor of Dear Joan Chittister: Conversations with Women in the Church (Twenty-Third Publications).

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