Jonah 3:1-5,10; Ps 25 Teach your ways O lord; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20
We have some exciting readings this 3rd sunday of ordinary time.
Each one has a message that affects us on a grand scale.
First we encounter Jonah. Jonah's story is all to familiar to us. It is a story that captivates the young and old alike. Every one's imagination can absorb the story of the stubborn prophet who resist God's call and then flees. Jonah wants to create distance between him and God and the town he is suppose to be serving. As he stows away on a boat he finds himself tossed in a storm only later to be tossed over board. This is when everything gets interesting. From the depths of the ocean a huge sea monster aka "large Whale" swallows him and for three days he finds himself in the belly of the fish.
Of course, he has a change of heart and back to Nineveh he goes realizing he cannot out run God. Though he is still reluctant. Yet even though he doesn't feel like doing his job he does it and the whole city is converted.
If you look past the stubbornness and the big fish there is a message that is timeless for us all. Nineveh was a place of terrible deeds. The people were doing evil things. God wanted to wipe them out and if you remember Sodom and Gomorrah then you know he wasn't joking.
Yet, God waits on them to change. God is willing to go to bat for them and give them a chance to examine their lives and begin a new. Jonah gave up on them but God did not. This is the message. God doesn't give up on us. No person, no place, no situation is beyond the Mercy of God and is healing reach.
This message should impact our daily life. Imagine if we looked upon each person we meet with that simple thought: they are not beyond the mercy and healing touch of God. I think it would change us before fit ever changes them.
Though we give up on them and close the door of our life to them, God does not. No person, no place, no situation is beyond the mercy and healing reach of God.
Then we come to St Paul. St paul says that time is running out. There is a great sense of urgency in St Paul. His urgency is for the kingdom. Imagine if we took all the urgency we have for our temporal affairs and direct it toward our eternal destiny. This is why he says if you have a wife live as if you don't, if weeping as if not weeping, if rejoicing as if not rejoicing, using the world as if not using or owning in it. What is he saying.
I think the simple message on a grander scale for us is this: no relationship, no emotion, no possession should control us. Our faith should be guiding us through them and beyond the, so that we enter into them with the proper mindset and discipline.
Think about how often relationships lead us away from God? How often do our emotions interfere with our ability to lobe our neighbor? How many possessions holds us back? Every temporal matter must be purified by the eternal love affair God has with us.
Then we get to the gospel. Jesus has his inaugural address: This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.
Repent simply means to change your mind, change the way you see things, change your perspective. We all need to change our perspective and look with the eyes of God.
Then we see the four fishermen leave everything. They abandon their nets and father and boat and follow Jesus.
What does it mean to follow Jesus? Some in the 60's thought it meant we were to look like Jesus so they grew their hair out and a beard to boot and put on sandals. Others think it means to do what Jesus did that is just a matter of duplication. Yet as good as these are they are insufficient.
John of the Cross as a better notion. He stated that to follow Jesus wasn't a look alike contest or a matter of duplication but rather seeking to imitate Jesus' motivation. We do what we do because of the why Jesus did what he did. Think about that. What is our motivation? Are we self motivated or God motivated? Are free enough form our selves so that God's desire takes first place in our life.
Jesus in the garden prayed, "Father, let it be your will not mind." Here we encounter true motivation belonging to every Christian. We should pray daily, "Lord, may i do what I do because you desire to do it through me." Lord may i do what i do because you ask me to do it.
We need to overhaul our motivation and then we can leave everything and no longer be entangled in our nets and with such freedom experience lasting joy in the footsteps of Jesus.
Joy is not a selfish seeking but a selfless finding.