Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B Reflections

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B- Reflections by Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
Readings: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Ps 25:4-9; 1 Cor 7:29-31 and Mark 1:14-20

Our God of Deliverance

The responsorial Psalm of today, “Teach me your ways, O Lord” Psalm 25:4a highlights our need for God. It is a prayer for confidence and trust in God’s forgiveness, deliverance and guidance.  It is an expression of our need for God.  And an invitation to repent and rely more and more on God’s love with mercy, His ways of peace, His road of repentance (Jonah 3:1-5), His path of detachment (Mark 1:14-20), themes that runs through the Scripture readings of the today.

The Psalmist says, “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me for you are God my Savior.”

Our faith tradition, God’s ways, God’s path= Derek ($rd) is usually and simply understood as Torah (hrwt), God’s laws, His precepts, His will, God’s instruction, His teachings, His Words = dabar (rbd). In Acts of the Apostle 22:4 Paul talks about his earlier persecution of those who followed the Way (o`do.j) of Christ and his life style.
God is Holy. His ways are holy and pure. When the Psalmist prays, “Teach me your ways.”  It presupposes that God’s children have derailed, they have made a mistake, they have fallen path, they have sinned, and they have turned away from God. God is the only one who can bring us back to His ways of holiness and sanctity.
Remember the incidence of the golden calf, the incidence of idolatry in Deuteronomy chapter 9:12, 16 when God instructed Moses to go down to the sinful Israelite.   God said to Moses, “Go down from here now quickly for your people whom you have brought out from Egypt have become depraved, they have already turned aside from the Way (Derek/hodos) who the Lord had pointed out to them and have made for themselves a molten idol.

In Jeremiah 5: 4 talking about corruption we read, “I will go to the great ones and speak with them; for they know the way of the Lord, their duty to their God.”
In Proverbs 3:17 God the personified Wisdom has God’s ways” God’s ways are pleasant ways, and God’s path are peace.”
So God sent Jonah in today’s first reading (Jon 3:1-5, 10) to the Ninevites to teach them His Ways, to call them to repentance from their evil ways of corruption (Jn 1). We are familiar with the initial struggle of Jonah and his resistance not to embark on this mission of spreading God’s message of mercy. Initially, he ran on the opposite way leading to Tarshish and was swallowed up by a Whale (Jon 1-2). However, when he finally obeyed and followed God’s path, preached to the Assyrian-Ninevites we are told “they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.” In other words, they repented and turned from their evil ways to God’s Ways. Both Jonah and the repentant Ninevites were saved. This suggests that both preachers and those preached to, need to follow God’s Ways, not their own ways.

Similarly, Jesus in today’s Gospel, followed the Will of the Father, preached repentance and the need for people to believe in the Gospel, the Word of God and His Ways. The fisherman, Simon and Andrew, James and John left their fishing industries, their fishing paths. Detaching themselves from materialism, from their nets, from the comfort of their homes, and relatives, from the lucrative fishing income and from selfish love of self in this passing world (1 Cor 7:29-31), to follow the path of Christ, a path of simplicity, generosity and love. Materialistic approach to life is veritable ground for secularism and relativism (my ego, my desires only). People who deny God’s existence and refuse to be taught God’s ways, those who dismiss God’s Laws have little regard for objective moral standards. Ethical principles and love of God become secondary to their situational needs. This is not what we want.

I want to believe that we are ready today go deep into ourselves introspectively, to allow God to teach us His Ways (Ps 25:4a) and His Spirit to renew us. We want to follow his Ways, his Life Style of Charity, Compassion, non violence, truth and holiness; even when we discomfort ourselves to assist others, to help someone in need and to help others to experience God’s Love and His Divine Presence.
Dear God,
Teach me your Gospel Ways
Teach me your path of loving you and my neighbors
Teach me your path of trusting you more and more
Teach me your path of compassion and generosity
Teach me your path of obedient service
Teach me your path of truth and holiness
Teach me your path of patient and forgiveness
Teach me your path, detachment and simplicity of life
Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.