Third Sunday of Ordinary Time 2024 Franciscan Gospel Reflection

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

January 17, 2024

Franciscan Friar Fr. Paul Gallagher reflects on the Gospel text for the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time. Think about the most radical change that you have had to make in your life. What led to that radical change?

The content is edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here Franciscan Gospel Reflection January 21 2024 Excerpts are from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Photos: Charlesdrakew, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons; Jules & Jenny from Lincoln, UK, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Mark 1:14-20

After John had been arrested, 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.”

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew, casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother, John. They, too, were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.


Last week the Gospel text was John’s account of the first disciples coming to Jesus. This Sunday the Gospel text is taken form Mark’s Gospel and describes the first disciples joining Jesus from a different perspective.

Mark begins his Gospel with John the Baptist in the desert announcing a baptism of repentance, to prepare for the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. He then describes the baptism of Jesus. As Jesus is coming out of the water, the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus. Mark states that the Holy Spirt drove Jesus into the desert but does not describe the temptations. All these events are told with brevity (14 verses), and then Mark takes up the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry in Galilee. The beginning of that ministry is described in the Gospel text for this Sunday.

The text begins with a simple statement that the events here took place after John had been arrested. It is not clear from the text why he chose to mention the arrest of John the Baptist. Scripture scholars believe that initially Jesus may have been a disciple of John, setting out on his own only after John was arrested (John 3:22).  However, here Jesus is portrayed as traveling among the towns and villages of Galilee rather than in the desert wilderness. The message of Jesus in verse 15 is very similar to that of John as described in other Gospels. “In those days John the Baptist appeared preaching in the desert of Judea (and) saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:1-2)

The “kingdom of God” was loaded with meaning for the people of the day. The earliest traditions would identify the Hebrew people as the kingdom of God. God was understood as the true ruler of the people. The king ruled only as a representative of God. The failure of this system led many to put their hope in some future intervention by God, rather than hoping for a faithful ruler who would reestablish the kingdom of God. Jesus’ proclamation states simply that “now is the time” when the hoped-for future kingdom of God has arrived and the time for hoping is over. This message that “the time of fulfillment has arrived” would stir people deeply. It is also the kind of bold statement that would have attracted people’s attention. Those who lived with the burden of heavy taxes and an oppressive foreign government would have hope of relief. But the political and religious leaders would have found such comments threatening.

This brief summation of Jesus’ message is followed by Mark’s account of the call of the first disciples–the fishermen Simon, Andrew, James and John. The text describes why these successful fishmen are willing to respond completely to Jesus’ invitation. They are called not just to be pupils of the teacher, the traditional role of disciples–they are to work with Jesus in gathering other disciples. They are to become “fishers of men.” In exchange, they are invited to live with him, but they are not told where. They must be willing to learn by being with Jesus and letting him lead the way. These men of responsibility are being asked to leave their families, the sea, and a way of life that has brought them a certain degree of success. By becoming disciples, they must exchange their familiar daily life for the unfamiliar, and for dependence on Jesus. It was also a significant break with the basic understanding of family responsibility, a basic value of their society. Many would have looked on such a way of life with disdain.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Think about the most radical change that you have had to make in your life. What led to that radical change?
  2. What is it that you envision by the term the Kingdom of God? What kind of changes does that imply?
  3. What do you think Jesus was feeling as he learned that John the Baptist had been arrested?
  4. Picture yourself as one of these early disciples. What are some of the things that go through you as hear Jesus asking you to become one of his disciples?
  5. Have you ever felt like God was asking you to change your way of life, and live more as his disciple?
  6. Could Jesus be asking you to be his disciple, now, today? What stirs in you as you consider that possibility?
  7. Can you talk honestly and openly to Jesus about your desire and/or reluctance to being a “fisher of men?”

Article Comments:

Fr. Placid Stroik, OFM 01/19/2024 @ 12:34 pm

Some time ago…a radical call to come and see was letting go of a dream to be like Fr. Ed.. that’s all I desired serving the Kingdom but independently …Then came signs that I was drawn to live in close contact in a community. that was letting go like the Apostles.. of .water and fish. that has made all the difference. Cardinal Newman describes that a “Venture of Faith”

Now ….today a venture of faith is letting go of a ministry that I helped to create that others now want to do it “their way”…not “my way”, again letting go of “water and fish”. Emmanuel Falque would link this to freely living a life of “finitude” as Jesus did and so enter into glory.


Fr. Placid Stroik, OFM 01/24/2024 @ 8:42 pm

Such calls lead to freedom to serve the kingdom that is bigger than I am, but includes my contribution


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