How are we being called to follow Jesus more closely as this new year begins?

Carla Oliver

Living the Word l Carla Oliver

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time l Jan. 22

Isaiah 8:23 — 9:3; Psalm 27:1,4,13-14; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17; Matthew 4:12-23

This time of year we are all most likely in similar situations. We have put away the bright and cheery Christmas decor that fills our home with great warmth, cherished memories, and reminders of the greatest gifts we have been given. We have said “see you later” to those we see yearly due to life circumstances and are already feeling the weight of distance. We have moved into the dull days of winter that occasionally feel like they last just a stint too long.

It is easy in the bustle of the typical holiday season ending to forget that in the midst of holiday parties, family gatherings, travels, and more that the Incarnation of God has been made manifest and Christ has come to dwell with us. That in the darkness of winter, there has come forth great light.

With the beginning of a new year, comes many reasons to rejoice. For most of us that includes setting new goals, taking on the tradition of a “new year’s resolution,” or even just looking for ways to start afresh. What if we were to look at the disciples in this week’s reading to model that?


What if we were to embrace the fact that like the early Christians, we are being called out of the darkness, and into great light? Instead of taking on a popular — yet worldly — motto as our motivation for change, that we cling to the words of the Responsorial Psalm: “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” That in the new habits we build this year, the “cross is not emptied of its meaning” (1 Corinthians 1:17). That like Peter, Andrew, James, and John, who are tending to the work they have been given, that we are being called.

What if we were to embrace the fact that like the early Christians, we are being called out of the darkness, and into great light?

There are many beautiful images of the calling of these particular four that over generations artists have rendered beautiful interpretations. I personally turn to a few of these different depictions in prayer to deepen my trust, understanding, and to receive from the Holy Spirit what it is I need.

How did these ordinary men, working in a trade that likely was generationally passed on to them, move forward and leave behind their lives? What did that look like? What did they experience? What places in my life is the Lord calling me from?

There are many resources out there that have helped me to take on this practice of prayer, visio divina, that I would suggest giving it a go. Allow yourself the opportunity to enter into these moments of Scripture in a new way, to imagine a firsthand look at the lives of the disciples.

As we still are in the early days of this new year, how are you being called to follow Jesus more closely?

CARLA OLIVER is the administrative assistant in the diocesan Office of Vocations. Her experience includes serving as missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), which included leading Bible studies. She can be reached at

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