If it had been up to us, we would have begun preaching and healing straight away after the baptismal experience in the Jordan river. But Jesus has taken extra preparation time, and there must have been a decent time lapse between John’s encounter with Jesus and John getting arrested, which could have been well over 40 days.
The ending of John’s public ministry becomes the signal for Jesus to begin His public ministry.
Where does He choose to begin? Not at the Temple, not in the ancestral lands of Judah and Benjamin, but out in the boondocks of Galilee where there’s a big ethnic mix of Jews, Greeks, Romans and peoples from nearby countries and plenty of descendants of Abraham who don’t know which of the 12 tribes they belong to.
How does He begin? By repeating the message of John to repent and believe, and in the early days without any kind of team at all.
The message of repentance is perennial. If we don’t make some kind of change in our lives, then we aren’t giving God any room to work in us. How can we expect God to do something new in us, if we keep on with the same routine week in and week out? Perhaps it doesn’t have to be a big change, just something small, sustainable and regular, and over time God can lead us step by step into more of Him.
Although sometimes He does ask for the big change.
We know that Peter and Andrew, James and John, had met Jesus before. Last week’s Gospel confirms that. But when the crunch came, and Jesus more or less said, ‘It’s go time, are you coming with me?’, they had to make a complete and total change of lifestyle then and there, or miss out on being disciples of the long awaited Messiah.
Which begs the question, if you had an encounter with Jesus tonight, and He invited you to do something completely different, would you give Him an unequivocal yes, a timid maybe, or a blunt no?
Note that Jesus doesn’t start the next phase of His public ministry with a big team, but with a small team that already has good working relationships with each other.
Jesus seems to be in the business of building solid relationships, not in the business of seeking celebrity. Only solid relationships endure the tests of time and other trials, celebrity is ephemeral.
For those of us seeking likes, comments and shares, this should make us pause and reconsider our priorities, and commit to putting more time and effort into building up the quality of our face to face relationships.
For many of us the ‘kairos’ time has arrived. Many of us have been waiting for a long time for this anointed moment. May God grant us the grace to give Him an unequivocal Yes. Amen.