Homily (2) 3rd Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael Ufok UdoekpoReadings: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Ps 25:4-9; 1 Cor 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20
A Merciful and Selfless God, Slow to Anger, abounding in Love!
Today we live in the 21st century, standing on our faith traditions. But when we open our Bibles; when we read our Scriptures, especially the Four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we learn so much about God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, whom we are daily called to imitate. He is holy, generous, merciful, slow to anger and kind. We learn so much about Christ who once changed water into wine, healed the blinds, dialogued with the Samaritan woman, raised Lazarus from the tomb, ate with tax collectors, and encouraged Zacchaeus to come down from the tree, whom he later went to din with. He loved on the road to Calvary and forgave sinners on the Cross. He is selfless, humble and reaches out to everyone. He is persistence in calling us to himself, regardless of our "narrow nationalism," gender, language and culture, or which part of the continent, we may come from. Today’s readings seem to point towards the same direction.
In today’s Gospel, the selfless Christ knew a time would come when he would be “handed-over” he quickly initiated the calls of his disciples, beginning with Peter, Andrew, James and John, who were originally fishermen. Thank God, they left everything to follow Jesus, including their net, boats, parents, family and workers. They became fishers of men. What does this mean? Then became champions of God’s love, preachers and promoters of justice, unity, sources of divine mercy, and agents of true evangelization, viceroys and conduits of the inclusive of the message of God’s love.
This was something that was lacking in the Corinthian community that Paul was preaching to, in the 2nd reading. Selfishness, rivalries, abuse of marriages, sexualities, and overt worldliness perverted this community. Some of them forgot that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. Many could not realize on time that everything is this world, our talents, our homes, money, power, wealth, our physical bodies our temporary and transitory. We better make good and timely use of them, for the common good; for the glory of God, for the service of the community, and the entire church.
Jonah, in the first reading, also felt into the same trap of selfishness about God’s love, mercy and blessings. He is called by God to bring God’s message of love and forgiveness to enemy- folks in the far- East of Nineveh, in Assyria. Unlike Peter, Andrew, James and John, in the Gospel, Jonah resisted, and sailed the opposite direction, as far West as he can to Tarshish, I guess, to the direction of the present day Spain. In spite of Jonah’s reluctance, God has a way of insisting on his love and callings. No matter what, he keeps calling us. And perhaps, reminding us that, his divine thoughts, are not our human thoughts.
Granted that Jonah had problems on the way: shipped wrecked, swallowed by a big fish, tormented by nasty weather, he would eventually, by the grace of God, carry out God’s mission of preaching repentance to the Assyrians, non-Jews and the Gentiles, as Paul did in Corinth.
As funny and satirical as Jonah’s story may sound, together with the rest of today’s readings, it offers us a spiritual mirror to see ourselves as God’s instruments. God has called us to various missions which we must do selflessly, with all our talents, energies and enthusiasms. This story also offers us a mirror to see ourselves, how we still are, sometimes today in this 21st century: petty, intolerant to others, selfish and jealous to our neighbors, in many ways. And sometimes unwilling to let go, unwilling to admit that God’s love and mercy extends to all persons of every land and nations, Jews and Gentiles, gender and culture.
Therefore, If God is merciful, selfless, initiates all calls, kind, forgiving, and compassionate, he wants us in our various states of life, offices and positions to be forgiving, and merciful to those, who may have offended or hurt us, and be loving to all those we meet on the way!