3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Homily

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Mark 1:14-20
January 25, 2015

Having been baptized and following the arrest of John the Baptist, Jesus begins his mission to proclaim the gospel of God.  In the three lines that follow (This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel) we find a summary of everything Jesus is about.  It’s time to change.

Immediately Jesus begins to call disciples.  He calls Simon and Andrew, and James and John, all who immediately respond.  They don’t ask any questions, like what it means to follow Jesus or what will it take, how much will they need to give up.  Without questions they follow Jesus.  Remarkable!

Going back a few hundred years earlier we hear the story of Jonah.  The Word came to Jonah to go and preach God’s message to the Ninevites.  Seemingly, without even knowing the message he will preach, Jonah heads for Nineveh.  Another great response to God by a disciple!

Well, actually there is a little more to the story.  I did say seemingly right?

This reading picks up halfway through the Book of Jonah.  Remember the story of Jonah and the large fish?  It happens before this.

Sometimes the story of Jonah and the “whale” is told as a children’s story but do you remember why Jonah ended up in the belly of the fish?

What we heard in today’s reading is not the first time the Lord called Jonah.  The first time Jonah tried to run and hide.  He ended up in the belly of the fish as corrective punishment.  Jonah had some time to think while in the fish.  He repented.  So when God calls him a second time, Jonah goes.

We should ask ourselves why Jonah refused at first to deliver God’s message.  One might think he was scared.  Being a prophet is not an easy task.  Telling people they are sinning and must repent is not a way to become popular.

However, in Jonah’s case, fear is the not his primary motive for trying to run and hide.  He knows God wants him to tell the Ninevites that they will be punished if they continue to sin.  Jonah doesn’t want to tell them because he knows if he does, they will repeat and God will not punishment.  Jonah’s problem is that he wants them punished.

Jonah preached a message of destruction that led to the people repented in sackcloth and fasting.  John the Baptist called people to repentance.  Jesus called people to repent.

What do we do with the call to repentance?

Do we change our own ways?  Do we even listen to see if we need to change or do we just assume we must be right?  Just because everyone else is doing the same thing doesn’t make it right.  Look at the city of Nineveh.  The whole city was sinning and didn’t even realize it because it seemed “normal” to them.

What’s the saying, if everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?

Everyone else doing it doesn’t make it right.

We need to listen to God to know what is right.

How about sharing the message to call others to repent?  Do we?  Are we afraid?  The fear can be real as not all church teaching is popular.  I often struggle to know when to preach an unpopular message and to find the right words.  So I pray for the wisdom and understanding to know the right words and the courage to say them.

Now, none of you have to stand up in front of the entire congregation to preach but how about in your family, small groups, or even just one on one.  Will you speak God’s words or do you just try and keep the peace, often by saying nothing?  The problem here is that saying nothing can often be interpreted as saying it’s OK.  Conversely, we don’t need to get in fights over it.  We say what needs to be said and left it at that.

Backing back to Jonah, he didn’t want to preach repentance because he wanted the Ninevites destroyed.  Do we act the same way?  Perhaps at work, we don’t speak up so someone else gets into trouble and then we can get their job.  Or how about with our siblings?  Do we point out when they are doing something wrong or do we let them get into trouble just to see them punished?

Repentance.  It’s something we all need to think about.





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