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Third Sunday – Year B – Ordinary Time
Readings: Jon 3:1-5, 10; 1 Cor 7:29-31; Mk 1:14-20.
Reading 1 (Jon 3:1-5, 10):
The word of the LORD came to Jonah, saying:
“Set out for the great city of Nineveh,
and announce to it the message that I will tell you.”
So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh,
according to the LORD’S bidding.
Now Nineveh was an enormously large city;
it took three days to go through it.
Jonah began his journey through the city,
and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing,
“Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed, “
when the people of Nineveh believed God;
they proclaimed a fast
and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.
When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way,
he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them;
he did not carry it out.
Reading 2 (1 Cor 7:29-31):
I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out.
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.
For the world in its present form is passing away.
Gospel (Mk 1:14-20):
After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.
I. THEME: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
Time can change people to be better or worse. If people know how to wisely use their time, they shall be successful; if they let time uselessly passing by, they must endure bad results. For examples, if a college student knows how to use his four years in college to study hard, he can acquire knowledge, graduate and find a career in his field; but if he wastes his time on party, constantly watching TV and on sleep, he shall learns nothing, can’t be graduated or find a job.
Today readings emphasize on the importance of properly using time. In the first reading, God commanded the prophet Jonah to go to Nineveh to let them know God’s anger is going to fall upon them. Instead of going to Nineveh, Jonah went to Tarshish with an intention to avoid God. The result of his obedience is he was cast into the sea by the sailors. He was lucky to be alive after three days in the fish’s belly. When God commanded him to go to Nineveh the second time, he learned his lesson from the first and went. When the Ninevites heard him preaching, they believed in his message, repented, and proclaim a fast for the whole city, both human beings and animals, with a hope that God shall stop his anger and not punish them. God listened to their prayers and stopped his punishment. In the second reading, St. Paul advised the Corinthians: Since the appointed time is going to happen, everyone should pay their attention to the lasting values, not the passing values of this world. Let use them without enjoying because the form of this world is passing away. In the Gospel, Jesus gave people the important message: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
1/ Reading I: The Ninevites believed God through Jonah’s preaching.
1.1/ God commanded Jonah to preach to the Ninevites.
(1) The first time: God commanded Jonah: “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. The reason Jonah refused to go is that he hated the Babylonians, Israelites’ enemies. They destroyed Judah’s kingdom and leveled Jerusalem Temple to the ground. The result of Jonah’s disobedience: he was cast into the sea by sailors and the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Jonah earnestly prayed to God in the fish’s belly. God heard his prayer and the fish vomitted him out at the seashore (Joh 1:1- 2:11).
(2) The second time: “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” With a painful experience of the previous time, Jonah immediately arose and went to preach to the Ninevites as God commanded. Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth.
1.2/ The time is urgent: Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he cried, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
The people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
“Then tidings reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he made proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them cry mightily to God; yea, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?” (Jon 3:6-9)
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God stopped the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it.
2/ Reading II: The appointed time is about to happen and this world is passing away.
St. Paul might write this Letter with a hope that Christ’s Second Coming is about to happen; therefore, he advised the faithful to use their time and effort to prepare for this Last Day. However, this passage has its own value, though the Last Day didn’t happen yet. He advised them to pay special attention to this four things:
(1) Let those who have wives live as though they had none: Marriage is important for people when they are living in this world; when people enter the next word, marriage is no longer necessary. Jesus himself revealed this fact when the Sadducees asked him: “In the resurrection, therefore, to which of the seven will she be wife? For they all had her.” But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven
(Lk 20:34-35, Mt 22:28-30).
Today society has a tendency to emphasize too much on the sexuality of marriage. There are more important things for us to aim to than that, such as: how to reach the final destiny of our life; how to develop our relationship with God; how to make the relationship between husband and wife works so that they can help each other to overcome obstacles in life; how to propagate life and to educate children to be responsible and mature persons.
(2) Let those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing: Passions, such as joy and sadness are temporal; they come and go. People shouldn’t pay too much attention to find joy or to scare of sadness. The third beatitude highly regards the value of mourning: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be consoled.”
Modern people, especially the young, are paying too much attention to parties and friends. They are afraid of lonely and silence; some are constantly waiting on cellular phones for parties to be announced. They forget that any party shall come to an end; sooner or later they must face their true identity and be responsible for their life. Moreover, silence can help them to rest and to have peace. If they spend time to learn, they shall recognize what is the real happiness and the true meaning of their life.
(3) Let those who buy as though they had no goods: Shopping is needed when people need something they don’t have, not to stock up things that they might need. Most of today people don’t value a simple life and they are becoming slavery for material life. Some dangers of shopping addiction are:
– They want to have things that other people have, if not better than that: Weekend is the opportunity for them to show off what they have through parties. It is the time for them to compare their material possession with others’. If they feel they aren’t equal to their friends, they will find a way to be equal or even better. Such a lifestyle will benefit merchants and make people slaves for material things. In order to have money to buy them, they must work harder, weekdays aren’t enough they have to work more in the weekend. They forget that happiness isn’t depended on what people have, but on what they are.
– They like to buy things on sale: Shopping becomes a hobby, a mindful battle between merchants and shoppers. When a new item comes out, merchants puts a very high price on it; when it becomes old, they sell it with a discounted price. Shoppers are happy because they can get it with a discount price. They don’t know that the discounted price sometimes is the true value of the item.
(4) Let those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it: God created all material things to serve human beings, not human beings for material things. There is a danger to modern people that they are no longer paid their attention to spiritual joy, but only to material joy. For example, vacation is an opportunity for people to rest and to enjoy peace of mind. To achieve these two purposes, people only need to go camping a few days; natural scenes, fresh air and tranquility shall help people to relax and to raise their mind to God. In opposition, many think that vacation must be a long and far away trip. They spend lots of money for their vacation, sometimes too much money and time consuming make them more worry and tiresome than they were before their vacation.
3/ Gospel: They immediately left their nets and followed him.
3.1/ Jesus preached God’s Good News: Jesus’ Gospel contained the following three things.
(1) The time has come: The history of the Old Testament is the time for the Israelites to prepare for the Messiah’s coming. All prophets announced this and prepared for people to welcome him. Through Jesus’ preaching, he wanted to let people know that the prepared and waiting time is ended. He is the Messiah whom people are waiting for.
(2) The Kingdom of God has begun: The Jewish tradition believed when the Messiah comes, he shall establish God’s reign. He shall be a king to govern people and to lead them to God. Jesus wanted them to know that when he comes, God’s reign is begun.
(3) People need to repent and to believe in the Gospel: If people want to enter the Kingom of God, they must repent from their sins and believe in the Gospel.
3.2/ Jesus called the first four disciples: To spread the Good News to all people, Jesus called four first disciples to train them.
(1) Simon and Andrew: When Jesus was passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
(2) James and John: And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him.
Their fast and immediate reactions showed they recognized the importance of preaching the Good News and the urgency of time.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Our life on earth last only a certain and short time, we need to find out what is the ultimate end of our life, and do all we can to reach that end.
– God created all things for men because He loves them. He puts all things under human control. To worship any creation as a god is opposed to God’s plan.
– To bring people to God is more valuable than to become rich. We should eagerly listen to God’s call and to work in the missionary field.