HOMILY FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
HOMILY THEME: “JESUS SAID TO THEM, ‘FOLLOW ME.’ AND IMMEDIATELY THEY FOLLOWED HIM.” (Mark 1:17-18)
BY: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
Why did he pick me? Was it because most of the others nearby were young nurses scurrying to clock-in for work? Was it because I was the only older person in sight not wheelchair-bound or unsteadily maneuvering a walker? Was it because of the Roman collar I was wearing? Or maybe it was because I was traveling against the flow of traffic.
The bright June morning found mobs of us crossing the walkway bridge adjoining the hospital to the parking garage. Throngs of nurses in a bright array of scrubs dashed past me, the urgency of punching in on time a clear reversal of the sauntering casual chatter that marked their exit at end of shift. Pressed for time, these nurses, mostly female, dodged wheelchairs and zigzagged around anxious elders anchored to walkers. Yes, they were all in a near-run to the time clock as hospital duties called insistently.
Already at the hospital for several hours ahead of the stampede, I was struggling against the flow, returning to my car to retrieve a forgotten item as the horde continued past. Drowsy smiles and hurried salutations were hurled at me as they zipped by. I barely noticed the figure caught in the traffic flow until he was upon me. In conservative suit and tie, near desperation on his face, he broke from the rush to address me, “Please, can you help me?”
Both of us now pressed against the walkway windows as the pack passed, I was quick to respond, “Sure, I’ll help you if I can. What do you need?” He pleaded, “I have a medical school interview here in 10 minutes and I can’t button the top button of my shirt. Can you do it for me?” I laughed. Yes, I just laughed. Here in this place where life and death daily dueled, this young man’s concern—this would-be doctor’s present care—seemed so innocent, childlike. Buttoning his top button and straightening his tie, I wished him well as he dashed off to his appointment.
Could he have had any idea what was in store should he become a doctor? Of course, as a pre- med college grad he had a fair idea of the physicality of what lay ahead, but what of the demands it would make on his heart, his soul? He could manage flesh and bone, but what of failure, grief, overwhelming stress? He couldn’t imagine what was ahead, this young man rushing to a medical school interview.
In the gospel passage we hear today, Jesus approached four fishermen, Simon, Andrew, James and John, and, as St. Mark wrote, “Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me.’ And immediately they followed him.” (Mark 1:17-18)
Could they ever have imagined where their following would lead them? Would they have dropped their fishing nets and run off had they known that they were to share in the suffering and death of Jesus? They couldn’t have imagined. They couldn’t have known. But they went.
The young man on the hospital’s bridged walkway—he yearned to be a doctor, his heart having heard something of the call that prompted the fishermen to drop their nets. Buttoning his top shirt button and adjusting his tie, he calmed as he moved on toward what lay ahead. He couldn’t have imagined. He couldn’t have known. But he went.