1Sm 1:1-8;Ps 116:12-19;Mk 1:15;Mk 1:14-20
The LORD has given each of us so much. Beyond our wildest imagination, the LORD has given us so much. How can we repay the LORD for his great goodness to us? We cannot repay the LORD for his marvelous blessings. Indeed, if we spend the rest of our lives being grateful, we would still need eternity to fully make a return to the LORD…even then our thanks would be incomplete. Our song will still be “how can I repay the LORD—for his goodness for his goodness to me?” I will sing. For ten thousand years, I will sing. Hannah, though a failure in the sight of her culture—what is a wife without a child? Still her husband loved her, unconditionally. Their fathers loved Simon, Andrew, James, and John, unconditionally, but that love only made them ready to accept Jesus’ call to become “fishers of men.” With all the LORD has done for us are we ready to accept the divine call? Are we ready to become the call to holiness that the LORD is making to all he meets by the sea? We are invited into the mystery of God revealing himself in the human and divine natures of Jesus Christ, two natures in One Person. Such was the preaching and witness of Saint Hilary of Poitiers, whose feast we celebrate today. This great bishop and “doctor of the divinity of Christ” refused to submit to the deception of the Arians, those who deny the divinity of Christ. His enemies labeled him as the “disturber of the peace” like his master Saint Athanasius. These great teachers have insured us, in this generation, access to the truth that makes us a living invitation of the Living and True God, and his co-eternal Son, Jesus Christ, the LORD.
The love of God inspired Elkanah to love both his productive wife and his barren wife, Hannah. Out of love Elkanah brought his wife, Peninnah and her children and Hannah, his wife who had no children with him on pilgrimage to worship the LORD at Shiloh. Elkanah gave a double portion to Hannah his wife, because he loved her. This love was showered upon his barren wife, not because she brought him children, but because he loved her unconditionally. This kind of love reveals God’s love for his People, Israel, and for us the New Israel. Such love is fulfilled in the Father’s love revealed in his gift of His Son, his eternal Son. We who have spent weeks celebrating the incarnation, birth, baptism, and marriage of his Son to his spouse, the whole human race, now recognize how precious is his love for us—barren and unworthy of such love. As Saint Hilary proclaimed our Lord Jesus is fully human and fully divine. This divine spouse of every human soul invites us by his faithfulness to experience a new and divine life within us. The Eternal Son of God, became human so that we could become divine. Such is the marvelous gift of our new life, now and forever. We share in the very nature of God by his gift in Christ. This makes his invitation to all who walk by the sea up close and personal though us his human spouse—his bride, beloved and beautiful. The glory of the Lord is upon us and that divine beauty invites everyone we meet into the divine life of the Holy God, the Mighty God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Once Herod had arrested his forerunner, the Lord Jesus began to preach a new message. Saint John the Baptist was heard preaching, “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins.” The Lord Jesus begins to preach a new message, truly good news, “Repent and believe the Gospel!” Among the first to receive this summons are the four fishermen, Peter, Andrew, James and John. They show no resistance to the Lord Jesus and his Spirit filled preaching. They leave everything, even their father, in order to follow the Christ into the Kingdom. The Lord Jesus built a new identity for these brothers on their old identity as fishermen: “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men!” This summons both reveals and hides the mystery of discipleship. It reveals that these men will have to lose their livelihood. They will have to follow the Christ. They will have to embrace the cross, love the cross, so that in their flesh they will carry about the death of the Lord, until he comes again. They will walk by faith and not by sight. They will come to see the God of gods in Zion. They will come rejoicing, carrying their sheaves. Indeed, these are our models for living in this New Year of Faith; we all must learn to walk in faith and not by sight.