Homily for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: Time is Short
By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Homily for Sunday January 24 2021
This Sunday’s readings speak about the shortness of human life and the certainty of death. In his letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul urgently warns: “I tell you, brothers, the time is running out!” Our life in this world is very short. Even the world itself is passing away. Hence, he urges us to conduct our affairs in this world with our full attention focused on what is most essential in life, namely, eternal salvation: “From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully” (1Cor 7:29b-31a).
Aware, then, of this reality, some important resolutions are in order. The first is repentance. This is the core message that Jesus proclaimed at the beginning of his ministry: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). And when the people asked for a sign, Jesus told them that there would be no sign except the sign of Jonah. He was referring to the prophet Jonah who was sent by God to the sinful city of Nineveh. He preached the warning: “Forty days more, and Nineveh will be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4). Fortunately, the Ninevites listened and repented, and their city was spared from destruction.
This message needs to be proclaimed persistently in our time – no matter how unpleasant and offensive it may be for some people. Nowadays, many people have already lost the sense of sin. This is clearly proven and illustrated every Sunday. Throngs of churchgoers receive Holy Communion, but only a handful of them regularly go to confession. We may also notice a growing number of Catholics who ignore and even openly contradict the teachings of the Church, particularly on moral issues such as abortion, divorce, and same sex “marriage”. Hence, there is really the need to remind people of the horror of sin and the need for repentance and conversion.
Second, we must not waste our precious time in this world. As St. Paul noted, “time is running out.” In our daily life, we must always use every opportunity to do something good. Let this famous quotation be our guiding motto: “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.” (Attributed to Stephen Grellet).
Attached to the wall leading to the chapel of the Sisters of Charity in Rome is a reminder: “Celebrate this Mass as if it was your first Mass; celebrate this Mass as if it were your only Mass; celebrate this Mass as if it were your last Mass.” It is an apt reminder to the priest celebrant as well as to every Catholic who comes to Mass, for we can never be certain if we will still be around for the next Mass. Hence, St. Philip Neri said, “The best way to prepare for death is to spend every day of life as though it were the last.”
Third, we have to follow Jesus immediately and unconditionally. This was how the first disciples responded to the Lord’s calling. They immediately left everything – their father, the boat and nets, their family and community. They exercised total detachment from material and worldly things and thereby were able to follow Jesus in total freedom and commitment. Detachment does not mean that material things in this world are evil and, therefore, need to be spurned. Rather we are simply practicing the Lord’s instruction: “But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides” (Mt 6:33). We ought to realize that the more we detach ourselves from things of this world, the greater will be our freedom to follow Jesus and the greater also our capacity to love others and appreciate the goodness and beauty of God’s creation.
Let us not fear death. Instead, let the reality and certainty of death inspire us to live our life to the full. It is said that the best way to prepare for death is to begin to live. Let me close with this quote from Robin Sharma: “When you were born, you cried while the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way that when you die the world cries while you rejoice.”
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches