Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Catholic Reflections 649 : Homily Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B - 21st January 2018

Homily Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B - 21st January 2018

Jonah 3:1-5, 10. Nineveh repents wholesale at a warning from the prophet of Israel.
Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9. The wise will seek instruction in the ways of the Lord and be guided by them. Teach me your ways, O Lord.
1 Corinthians 7:29-31. The time to do the right thing is running out, Saint Paul warns, for the present world is passing.
Mark 1:14-20 Jesus calls two sets of brothers, who leave their business and families to follow him.

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Please listen to my audio recordings of the readings, prayers and reflections for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B - 21st January, 2018 by clicking this link here:  https://soundcloud.com/user-633212303/3rd-sunday-ordinary-b-faith-hope-and-love  (EPISODE: 71 )
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Our first reading this weekend is the wonderful Book of Jonah. This delightful and very short book of the bible is well worth reading in its entirety…
 
[Please have a look here at the written text of the Book of Jonah:
 http://www.blakleycreative.com/jtb/Text/Jonah_NETBible_Endnotes.pdf]

 
We only get a taste of the main result in today’s text.  Prior to this, God has told Jonah to preach repentance to the people of the great city of Nineveh. But, Jonah hates the people there and does not want to go and preach repentance because they are his enemies and he is worried they might turn and repent and be saved, and that would not be good (according to Jonah).  
 
Jonah seems happy to have everything just the way it always was,  with Jonah and his people “in the good books with God” and his enemies “in the bad books with God,” and eventually they would be turned into pillars of salt!  If his enemies were to change and become brothers and sisters of Jonah..... That would require a whole new way of thinking, relating and acting.   Too much!!

So, Jonah runs away in the opposite direction. But we all know that you cannot run away from God. God pursues him and continues to call on him to deliver God’s message of love and invitation to repent.   
 
Jonah does not have a vested interest in the people of that city, but God does. God created the Ninevites as much as God created Jonah. God loves them and cares for them and wants them to turn away from sin and be saved.  God has no intention of giving up on the work of his hands just because some segments of his creation have classed them as worthless.
 
If we were perfectly content to let all things stay exactly the way they are now,.  ….  And if, (like Jonah), we do not want to see change or surprise…  and people were to want their enemies and rivals to stay the way they are, because at least then we know what category to put them into…..   well, then we are in for a lot of frustration and upheaval and stress…  Because God does not operate that way.
 
The slow but sure emerging of the Kingdom of God MEANS change and transformation… and that is painful and challenging and at times very unsettling; because it means a re-ordering of values and changing of relationships. It means inviting ”in” those who are outside, and possibly finding those “outside”  who used to be part of the “in crowd”.  God has a way of turning things on their head.
  
I can just picture the half-hearted, soft "calling-out" of Jonah as he preaches “repent now or in forty days Nineveh will be destroyed!.”   Only to find the people saying..  “oh, okay. We repent. We will change immediately. Thank you for this warning, we will heed it. Quickly everyone, proclaim fasting and penance!”   
 
Jonah was appalled and horrified. They have changed. They will be saved! They are now supposed to be his friends (not his enemies) and he doesn’t want this.  So Jonah goes off sulking and is mortally offended by God and furious. But, God is right to care about his people.
 
Today’s readings are all rather striking! 
 
Each of them shows a response which is immediate. That is wonderful.
                  
Jonah preaches. The Ninevites repent and change Immediately.

Paul calls upon everyone to live in the immediate moment, for the day of the Lord is imminent.

Jesus calls his disciples and they leave IMMEDIATELY!

What a powerful image……Jesus calling his disciples who drop everything and follow him. I think of poor comparisons such as one of those television advertisements where people drop everything they are doing (even really important things) and rush out the door to go to a door-busting sale at the local shopping centre….  Or to get that "must-have" hamburger…. 
 
But, with Jesus it is much more significant -  what he has to offer is worth following him for.  Jesus’ call is offering a whole new world, a new vision and a new set of relationships. The values of the gospel are revealed in their fullness. 
 
If the disciples paused and thought about what they were doing, they could have dreamt up heaps of reasons why they shouldn’t go…  their business, the risks, the insecurity, and so on….    But they did not let these things get in the way. Thank goodness, they responded to the call straight away. 

But, this is not encouraging recklessness. We know that Jesus called his disciples after a lot of prayer and discernment and he called disciples whom he had observed were already living in a way that showed their longing for the values of the Kingdom to be established in its fullness. It is also very likely that they had met Jesus prior to this moment and heard his message and spoken to him. Or, at the very least, in a close-knit community like theirs, they would have heard of him and his message.  And then – along comes Jesus…   - "the time has arrived..  come… follow me…."  (and they DO. IMMEDIATELY).  The disciples would have gone with their parents' blessing…   the cost of replacing them with hired labourers was a calculated risk because they believed that Jesus had come to break the injustices of the system at the time where, among other things, they were being taxed by the Romans beyond what was reasonable.
 
In our lives, Jesus calls each one of us, in big and small ways in the daily events and people of life. In our words, actions and priorities, let us respond immediately and with trust.
 
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References:
Fr Paul W. Kelly

John J Pilch . The cultural world of Jesus Sunday by Sunday, cycle B.  Collegeville, Minn. Liturgical Press .1996.
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Archive of homilies and reflections: http://homilycatholic.blogspot.com.au
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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
(
21st January, 2018)

(EPISODE: 71 )

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
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Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
Lord Jesus, you came to reconcile us to the Father and to one another: Lord, have mercy//You heal the wounds of our sin and division: Christ, have mercy// You intercede for us with the Father: Lord, have mercy//
May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.  Amen.
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Memorial Acclamation

We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.

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Sundays Ordinary II

Eucharistic Prayer II

Communion side.  pwk:  
RH
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Go in peace.(glorifying the Lord by your life)



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