HOMILY FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY OF THE ORDINARY TIME, YEAR B
THEME: GOD’S CALL, ALWAYS A PULL FROM SOMETHING!
BY: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
(JONAH 3:1-5,10. 1COR. 7:29-31, MARK1:14-20)
Today, the church reminds us of a certain urgency, the shortness of our time in this world. This is the theme that runs through the three readings of this Sunday. If time is short, we must not hold tenaciously to this world that is quickly passing away. Rather, we must believe the good news and live for the kingdom of God. It is as if the Church is trying to tell us this weekend, stop procrastinating, time is short, and act now before it is too late!
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In the history of the good news, everybody gets called by God. He makes the first move. Remember Abraham, God called and he followed God. And together they opened up a whole new world. And, down through the ages, this is the way it has been: God calls and we respond. But in the calling, we must remember that He is not just calling us to something, He’s calling us away from something. As St. Paul says,” Therefore if anyone be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; all things are become new” (2Cor.5:17). So, you must leave the things of your past life. You can do it sitting in your seat right here and now. It does not necessarily mean a geographical move like Abraham. Jesus gives a hint when he says to his disciples, “Leave your nets,” he knows they are fishermen, and he says to them, “Leave your nets, and I will make you fishers of men.”
When we look at our lives, we will observe that we are weighed down by the burdens of unhappy and wayward life. We seem to be like people who are on the wrong bus, heading for the wrong destination. What is surprising is that we tend to cling to our old unhappy way of life. We are so entangled in our marriage to the world and to the glittering things the world offers. We prefer to delay the adoption of the new, happier, deeper, and authentic way of life that the Gospel message offers us.
Jesus is a man of action, and events occur in rapid succession as Mark captures that in his Gospel. Time is of the essence; the fishermen immediately put aside their livelihood to become Jesus’ disciples. The Kingdom of God is here and now. The time of fulfillment is at hand. How might our lives be different if we more fully shared this sense of the immediacy of God’s kingdom? It was like no turning back. Once you are called, the time has come.
But for the four called by Jesus, it involved a complete act of trust and total surrender. They had no idea where they were going or what the future held for them. They trusted Jesus and followed him. If we read the rest of the gospels, we know that they were not always ideal followers of Jesus. They often misunderstood him, fought for the best positions, and even betrayed him and ran away. But Jesus did not give up on them and eventually, they were able to respond fully by giving their own lives. So, it was a slow learning process.
The call is still going out to each one of us. Am I ready to answer? To follow? Where do I need to adjust, to get my priorities right, to live the value system of Jesus? By being concerned and trying to make others happy, we will have more joy and peace. What are my entangling nets, limiting my freedom to follow? What personal relationships are blocking my way? What anxieties? What self-centered ambitions?
Finally, my brothers and sisters, if our time is short and the kingdom of God is close at hand, why waste the little time we have hating and sinning? We must use it to seek and worship our God, to live in peace and love with others, and to affect others and our society positively. We must use this short time to “seek what is good and pure, what is noble and true” (Phil 4:8).
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