Between now and Lent, we will be hearing in the Gospel readings at Sunday Mass about the beginnings of Jesus’s public ministry in Galilee almost 2000 years ago. When we hear these and other passages from Scripture, it is helpful to sense what it was like to be there at the time, and how the sacred writings speak to us here and now. In particular, we should recall the excitement, the wonder, the challenge and the call to repentance that people experienced when they first saw and heard Jesus in those early days. Thus, for example, last Sunday and this Sunday, we hear of the call of the Apostles. And then, on the next three Sundays, the Gospels describe Jesus curing the sick, including lepers, and even expelling demons. It is helpful to place ourselves in the scene, experience that first power of the Gospel, and ask what our response would be.
For the power of Jesus Christ and His Gospel on earth did not end 2000 years ago. He is with us and His Church, especially through the Eucharist, as He was with His people then. And, while the faith has been with us for longer than any current nation or human institution, there should still be a sense of newness and adventure in living out this faith. As the great Catholic writer and poet G.K. Chesterton said in his 1908 book Orthodoxy, “the Church alone has defied every fad and power of the world in order to preserve access to the eternal truth above all of them, a truth that ever challenges us to higher levels.” As he wrote in the chapter on The Paradoxes of Christianity, “People have fallen into the foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy.”
And so, when we hear of the early ministry of Jesus, it is important to ask what it would be like if we actually saw Him visibly for the first time. What would we say to Him, and what would He say to us? In what ways would we ask for His help, and how would he be asking us to serve Him in our homes, in our neighborhoods and in the Church? If we sense the excitement of Jesus Christ being with us, and the angels and saints surrounding us, then each day will become another chapter in the adventure of faith.