3rd Sunday OTB

Jonah 3: 1-5, 10 1 Corinthians 7: 29-31 Mark 1: 14-20

There was a young boy who wanted to go down to the lake and fish and his mother asked him to take his little sister with him. He said, “Mom, don’t make me take her with me. The last time she came with me I didn’t catch a single fish.” The mother said, “I’ll talk to her and I promise this time she won’t make any noise.” The boy said, “Mom, it wasn’t the noise. She ate all my bait!”

Dear friends! In today’s gospel we see the would-be apostles, Simon and Andrew, called to make a radical decision about the rest of their lives. They are fishermen. They are busy with their trade, casting nets, but we do not hear that they caught any fish. Probably on this particular day they too, were going through a state of depression and near-despair. It is in this state of mind that they hear the word of God addressed to them by Jesus: “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). They leave their nets at once and follow Jesus.

There comes a time in the life of every child of God when God invites us to follow Him more closely and to participate in His mission. God’s call to follow and serve Him often takes us to places we would never have dreamt of going. Jonah’s call in the first reading took him to Nineveh. For the Jew of the 1st century BC, Nineveh represented the seat of godlessness, immorality and corruption. Materialism expressing itself in all forms of immorality, corruption and crime was the order of the day in Nineveh.

For pious Jews like Jonah, Nineveh was the godforsaken city, the highway to perdition where evil reigned without any hope of change. For them Nineveh was a hopeless case, peopled by lost souls without the slightest hope of regaining God’s favor. No wonder Jonah objected to being sent there. As far as he was concerned the mission to Nineveh was nothing but an exercise in futility. The big surprise in the story is that as soon as the “godforsaken” people of Nineveh heard the word of God, they receive it with eagerness, repent with sincerity, and regain God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Even today God seeks men and women to send on the mission to Nineveh. Where is our Nineveh today? Our Nineveh today can be found in wherever God is rejected. It can be in our own families, in our neighborhood, in our little town or in our own hearts of selfishness.

This Sunday is January 22nd, the sad anniversary of the day when the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 offered up our generation’s version of the Dred Scott ruling, deciding that a certain class of human beings do not have any constitutional rights, especially the right to life. As a result of this perversion of justice, over 50 million innocent babies have been snuffed out in the name of choice, privacy, convenience, economic opportunity, family planning, or any of the other modern monikers used to mask its true name: Evil.

Today’s young people know that one-third of their siblings and classmates and friends are missing-in-action; they were not allowed to be born and enjoy life. These young people know the most dangerous place in America is inside a womb—a 33-percent death rate. They instinctively know they are the lucky survivors and they find such a brutal and tragic situation quite unacceptable. Nineveh in our country can be found in every abortion clinic and in the minds parents planning to abort the child. God calls you and me as he called Jonah, Peter, James, John to proclaim his message of hope, love, and forgiveness and peace to all wherever God is rejected. God calls us today to put an end to the culture of death and proclaim the Gospel of message of life.

Jesus cries out to us and tells us that a better world is within our reach; it’s within our grasp. “The reign of God is at hand,” He tells us. A better world begins when we begin to change our own personal life. “Reform your lives,” He tells us, “and believe in the Good News.” And so, if we want to change the world, are we willing first of all to change our own selves? How can I have the energy to change the huge systems surround us unless I at least have the energy to change myself/my family?

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