There is a time for patience. There is a time for waiting. There is a time for observing, planning and preparing. For thirty years Jesus watched and waited. During those thirty years, Jesus saw a lot of human interactions, some of them good but many of them not so good, in fact, some of them downright evil. The first thirty years of Jesus’ life are hidden from us but we can imagine the kind of things that he saw in the world around him and probably experienced first hand. Jesus had eyes to see the effects of sin and evil on the world that God, the Father, had so wondrously created to be very good. Jesus saw the cruelty and suffering of humanity. Jesus witnessed first hand injustice, poverty, oppression, tragedy, persecution, violence and every type of vice and human degradation that could be imagined. Jesus knew the enemy of humankind. He knew the demons that brought chaos and shame into human lives and he knew each of them by name. More often than he cared to admit, Jesus heard people say with great resignation, “That’s just the way it is.” People grew used to hearing “bad news”. On the Sabbath, in the synagogue, Jesus would hear the Sacred Scriptures proclaimed. People would listen attentively to the promises of God that were given to his people but he would also notice how the people had begun to murmur that the promises of God were empty and without effect. The words of God were nice to hear but they were not something that could really be believed. Jesus knew that something needed to be done but it was not yet the time to bring about the change that was needed. There was a great need for change in the world but when would the world be ready for that change?
Imagine the way that the suffering of the world weighed upon the merciful heart of Jesus. How often did Jesus in prayer ask the Father the simple question, “When?” Jesus knew that the time would come, but when would it begin? Something needed to happen and in the beginning of the gospel of Mark we are told that something did happen: John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus, the beloved son of his mother Mary’s cousin Elizabeth had been arrested! John had the courage to face the evil in the world, to challenge the people in power and to call for repentance. John was the voice crying in the wilderness but now that voice would be silenced. That was it! Jesus took up where John had left off and we are told, “Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”” (Mk 1,14ff)
Jesus answers the “bad news” of the world with the “good news”, the gospel of God. The world had spoken its words of defeat and desperation for too long and now it was time to bring the “good news” to the world and begin the reign of God. The good news is that the promises that God has made to his people in love are not empty promises but now is “the time of fulfillment”. For too long the people had become accustomed to the evil in the world and were resigned to its presence. For too long, people had believed that nothing would change, but Jesus comes to the people calling for change. Repent! Turn around your lives! Stop believing that things will never change and that we cannot hope for a better world. Start living the change that you want to see in the world. Reject the “bad news” of the world and believe in the “good news” that God proclaims to his people.
For things to change in the world, people need to change. Desperate times call for desperate measures and what is needed in the face of growing evil is a radical change in life. Jesus begins to call ordinary people to effect radical change in their lives and do extraordinary things. Jesus tells Andrew, Peter, James and John that there are enough ordinary fishermen in the world; what is needed are fishers of men! What is needed are those who have the courage, like John the Baptist, to do extraordinary things. John the Baptist was anything but ordinary! Now is the time to take up the fight against evil and to strive for holiness.
There is still great evil in our world today. We cannot just accept the evil that is all around us and be resigned to its presence. Now is the time to proclaim the gospel! St. Paul tells the Ephesians: “Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.” (Eph 6,10-13) Stand your ground. Have the courage to do the extraordinary and live in holiness. Believe in the gospel!