Bulletin: January 24, 2021
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our readings today speak of “Kairos” times, of God proclaiming new moments of opportunity of encounter with the Divine. From Jonah, we hear of God’s summons to the people of Nineveh to turn from evil. We hear Paul tell the church in Corinth that those who live in Christ must avoid clinging to anything transient, as all is secondary to God. And we hear of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Mark, as Jesus proclaims a moment of both opportunity and crisis. In these passages, there are no delaying tactics, no getting caught up in life’s distractions. Just a simple moment of choice. Perhaps we have had “Kairos” moments like these, or we may be facing one now. Sometimes, amid the complexities and uncertainties of our lives, clear choices emerge, and God asks us to choose. And our always patient and merciful God will accompany us in our choices.
Mark describes the beginning of Jesus’ ministry with his proclamation that the “kingdom of God is at hand.” The rest of Mark’s Gospel—all of Jesus’ preaching and healing, his death and resurrection—describes the inauguration of this kingdom of God. For Mark, the life of Jesus is the center point of history, where everything leads up to Jesus, and everything follows from Jesus. Mark then tells us that the first disciples follow Jesus immediately and wholeheartedly. They leave their work and family, all for Jesus. Because compared to Jesus and the life he offers, everything else is secondary.
Perhaps our invitations from God do not entail such dramatic life changes. But all who follow Jesus are called to align our life and values with his ways of love. As we continue to mature in love and in faith, we might ask: What needs to be renewed, re-oriented, or discarded in light of our life in Christ?
JONAH AND NINEVEH
Jonah makes a rare appearance this week. The book of Jonah is a fascinating tale of God, stubborn Jonah, surprising Nineveh, and the famous fish (or whale). Please consider reading the whole book, just 48 verses, together with a good commentary. The book is read at Jewish services at Yom Kippur, as a profound reflection about God and about all of us.
Today’s passage takes place shortly after Jonah’s time in the fish’s belly. Jonah finally performs the task that God asks of him, to call the people of Nineveh to repentance. (Nineveh was notorious for its brutality.) Their sudden repentance is bitterly accepted by Jonah, as he resents God’s mercy for Nineveh. God reminds Jonah that the people of Nineveh are God’s beloved too. Like the parable of the Prodigal Son, the story hints at the vastness of God’s mercy, especially forgiveness of those who seem least deserving. We are reminded that all of us are sinners, and we are all in need of God’s mercy.