“Focus and priority are important in life” by Fr Dan Devitt

“Focus and priority are important in life”                                               Reflection for 3rd Sunday 


Recently a terrible tragedy took place in our small rural community. We could hardly believe what had happened. The violent loss of human life dismayed, saddened and confused us.

In St. Mark’s Gospel every major move on Jesus’ part follows something violent that causes confusion in the community. Our gospel passage to-day begins ominously with the arrest of John the Baptist – and the upheavel that ensued. Then Jesus appears in Galilee, proclaiming the Good News: the reign of God is at hand; reform your lives and believe the Good News.

Jesus is acting in the tradition of the prophets, exhorting people to turn away from their usual way of life to a much more fulfilling one. He is calling people to come after him, to follow in his footsteps along the way of justice, mercy and integrity. It is time to veer off the paths of evil, injustice and exploitation. Jesus is calling for a radical operation transformation.

The message of Jesus echoes the Word of the Lord that came to Jonah in the first reading. Jonah is to go and preach to a whole city. And before the first day is done the city is turning and repenting of its wayward ways. On the first day of Jesus preaching he calls two sets of brothers. Their response is as sudden and as sure as the people of Ninevah. They commit to a person, they become his companions along the way. Jesus becomes the focus, the priority of their lives.

Focus and priority are important in life. Don’t we all marvel at the achievements of young people when a teacher or interested adult helps them to focus on music, sport or academics. They soon acquire and perfect various skills. The patron of young people, St John Bosco, would surely agree with the axiom “Mol an oige agus tiochfaidh si” – encourage the young and they will flourish. But he would go further. While the focus on skills is as admirable as it is essential young people need more. Don Bosco would hold that young people are short changed if they are not introduced to the person of Jesus and his values as their top priority in life.

To-day’s liturgy invites us all, young and old alike, to readjust our focus, to re-order our priorities. It is an invitation to recommit to the person of Jesus in a new expression of faith, prayer and generous service. May the Lord direct our faltering steps along his way.