HOMILY WEEK 01 01 – Year II
Call and Response:
Optional Memorial of St. Hilary
(1 Sam 1:1-8; Ps 116; Mk 1:14-20)
According to Bishop Robert Barron, today’s Gospel reports Jesus’ first sermon.
After his Baptism and temptation, Jesus begins to preach in Galilee. The first words out of his mouth serve as a summary statement of his life and work: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
Something that human beings have been longing for has appeared, and the time is now for a decision. Jesus’ very first words are a wake-up call. This is not the time to be asleep, not the time for delaying tactics, procrastinating, and second-guessing. The initial words of Jesus’ first sermon are an invitation to psychological and spiritual awareness: there is something to be seen, so open your eyes!
But what is it that he wants us to notice? What is this astonishing state of affairs that must not be missed? “The kingdom of God is at hand.” To my mind, the metaphor of the kingdom has a primary referent in the person of Jesus himself. Jesus wants us to open our eyes to see what God is doing in and through him. He himself is the kingdom of God coming into the world with transformative power.
Jesus’ first words are a call to us to do metanoia, to put on our highest mind and be the very best person we can be. We are also invited to pray for the faith of the earl apostles, who were able to leave everything to follow Jesus. Today, the church honors someone, St. Hilary, who was able to do that in an extraordinary manner, as a married bishop it seems.
St Hilary is best known for his defense of Christianity against the 4th-century Arian heresy, a position that questioned the nature of the Trinity. Hilary was born in Poitiers, Gaul [France], circa 320 and was already an adult, married and a father when he converted to Christianity. Chosen bishop of Poitiers about 350, Hilary offered a valiant defence of Christianity. In 356, on the advice of Arian bishops, the emperor exiled Hilary to the East. His continued defence of orthodoxy created such problems for the Arians there that they convinced the emperor to send him back to his own diocese. His stay in the Eastern Church enriched his theological writings, and he continued his confrontation with Arianism until his death circa 368. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1851. He is patron saint of lawyers.
The Eucharist is an act of deep faith as well as a call to do metanoia. May our celebration help us to leave everything that does not belong in our lives and follow Jesus like the apostles, and St. Hilary.