Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 'B'
January 21, 2024
Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
1 Cor 7: 29-31
The three readings today underline the absolute necessity for us of repentance and a prompt response to God’s call.
The First Reading tells us how God had to deal with the disobedient, fleeing prophet Jonah to turn him around, so that, repenting, he would go to Nineveh to preach repentance there. The wicked people of Nineveh, however, accepted Jonah as God’s prophet at once, and promptly responded to God’s call for repentance as Jonah preached it.
In the Second Reading, Paul urges the Christian community in Corinth to lose no time in accepting the message of the Gospel and in renewing their lives with repentance because Jesus’ Second Coming may occur at any moment.
Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus came to Galilee and began preaching, challenging people to “repent and believe in the Gospel.” Just as John did, Jesus also called for repentance, meaning a change in one's mind or in the direction of one’s life, setting new priorities. Repentance also means hating sin, not just being sorry for the consequences of one’s sins. Believing in the Gospel demands from the hearers a resolution to take Jesus’ words seriously, to translate them into action and to put trust in Jesus’ authority. Jesus preached the Good News, that God is a loving, forgiving, caring and merciful Father Who wants to liberate us and save us from our sins through His son Jesus. By describing the call of Jesus' first disciples, Andrew, Peter, James and John, today’s Gospel also emphasizes how we are to respond to God’s call with total commitment. Jesus started His public ministry immediately after John the Baptist was arrested. According to Mark, Jesus selected four fishermen, Andrew and his brother Peter with James and his brother John, right from their fishing boats. Jesus wanted these ordinary, hard-working people as assistants for His ministry. They would be very responsive and generous instruments in the hands of God.
We need to appreciate our call to become Christ’s disciples. Every one of us is called by God, both individually, and collectively as a parish community, to continue Jesus’ mission of preaching the Good News of God’s Kingdom and healing the sick.
We are called individually to a way of life or vocation: a religious commitment (priest, deacon, marriage partner or single person), plus a particular occupation rising from our talents (medicine, law, teaching, healing, writing, art, music, building and carpentry, home-making, child-rearing ....). Our own unique vocation should enable us to become what God wants us to be.
Our call, of course, begins with our Baptism and the other Sacraments of Initiation. It’s strengthened through the years of receiving the Eucharist and Confession, healed and consoled by Anointing of the Sick and, for those so called, made manifest in the sacraments of Matrimony or Holy Orders. The amazing truth is that God is relentless in calling us back to Himself even when we stray away from Him.
Let us be thankful to God for His Divine grace of calling us to be members of the true Church. Let us remember that it is our vocation in life as Christians to transmit Christ’s Light through our living, radiating Jesus’ love, mercy, forgiveness, and humble service to all in our society.