Intro: that famous saying: “today is the first day of the rest of our lives,” the day in which we’re called to receive yet another opportunity to answer the Father’s call to repent and change.
Readings: very reluctantly, Jonah finally responds to God’s call to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh who finally repent.. (For the feast of Paul’s conversion, this first reading tells us how it came about). Paul encourages the Corinthian community to get their priorities correct by not becoming too absorbed in this present world which will pass away. Instead he tells them to get their lives in order and live in constant readiness to meet their maker. because the world as we know it is passing away.
Jonah 3: 1-5, 10
1 Corinthians 7: 29-31
Mark 1: 14-20
Be prepared, always expect the unexpected. It’s good advice to those whom we meet in the Scriptures today: Jonah was living a relatively comfortable life, until God asked him to go and preach to the citizens of Nineveh, a notoriously wicked and pagan city whose people, as far as Jonah was concerned, didn’t deserve to even hear God’s word (hands over the ears, “not hearing this, lab, lah, lab”). So his immediate reaction was to run away from God. But God had other plans – He was even more determined than Jonah, and he’s hauled back, courtesy of a big fish.
Peter’s in the same boat, so to speak! Having grown up in Galilee, he always knew that he wanted to be a fisherman, probably good at his job, comfortably married, settled and working with his brother, Andrew. The major difference was that, as soon as Andrew and Peter heard Jesus’ call, they left all things and followed Him.
How about us. Are we totally open to God’s call in our lives? A teacher once asked her class what they wanted to be when they grew up. One little boy said that he’d like to be a zoo keeper in the monkey house, because they were intelligent, funny, and had real personalities. Thirty years later, that boy became a priest! So what does that say!
We all have our
hopes, dreams and plans for the future, but times change, and things don’t
always pan out as we hope they would. That can be a terrible disappointment which
sours us, or can we see the hand of God in it? No matter how often we refuse to
listen to God’s call, He waits patiently for us to come round. Like Jonah, we’re simply offered yet another chance to repent and change.
The Church is made up of Jonahs, Peters and zoo keepers! Some will answer God’s call readily, while others will fight against it as long as possible. Let’s try and keep our hearts open to His call so that if He asks us to change direction, to change the way our lives are heading, to change the very way we think and act, then we’ll respond in the same way as His first apostles did.
How many of you have agonised over a decision – was this or that a good career move .. was it right to sell up and move house .. right to go back to college or university .. to allow a son or daughter to leave school instead of staying on and fulfilling your ambition for them in further education ?
God never gives up on us. At baptism, He calls us by name to be His disciples. But that isn’t a once-and-for-all call: it’s a call which He renews every day, here and now, at this Mass. When we choose our calling, we have no idea how it will end up. It doesn’t mean that Jesus wants to take us away from our homes or families; but He knows how easily we can become over-engrossed with what our world has to offer, and how easily we can confuse a kingdom of our own making with the incredible things which He has to offer. All He wants is for us to look again at the direction of our lives and be ready to make adjustments, even radical ones if necessary. Above all, He wants us to deepen our faith in the Good News, as the story of a God Who cherishes us dearly, and loves us beyond our imagining with a love which will never end. We choose our careers and jobs in the hope that we can use the gifts and talents which God has given us. So don’t give up on Him! You might be a zoo-keeper yet!
Remember: softlee, softlee catchee monkey!