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Scripture Reflection - January 21, 2018

THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME Jonah 3: 1-5, 10; Ps 25: 4-5,6-7, 8-9; 1 Corinthians 7: 29-31; Mark 1: 14-20. THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND

Last Saturday, shortly after 8 a.m. local time, Hawaiians received an emergency alert to the effect that a ballistic missile was heading toward the islands, that people should seek immediate shelter, and that it was not a drill. Some rushed for shelter while others were unsure as to what to do. Thirty-eight minutes later came the notification that the alert was in error.

This Jonah-like warning was not from God (at least, not directly) but from someone pressing the wrong computer button. Thankfully, this terrifying occurrence may result in some good procedures developing from the experience.

We know Jonah fled from his first mission to Nineveh and ended up in the belly of the big fish. “The book of Jonah…features a recalcitrant prophet who flees from his mission and sulks when his hearers repent.” (New Oxford Annotated Bible)  When the word came from God the second time to go to Nineveh and announce a message of warning either to repent or be destroyed, Jonah, perhaps remembering his unplanned stay in the belly of the fish, did as God asked and proceeded through the city delivering the dire message. The people of Nineveh, including the King, quickly responded. They believed God, fasted, and put on sackcloth. When God saw what they had done, he changed his mind about destroying them.

In Psalm 25, the warning tone continues, though tempered by God’s compassion, love, and kindness: “teach me your paths, guide me in your truth…good and upright is the Lord; thus he shows sinners the way.” In 1 Corinthians, Paul says, “I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out…the world in its present form is passing away”.

In Mark 1, Jesus proclaims, “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel”. Jesus then goes on to recruit his first disciples, inviting four fishermen, Simon and Andrew, James and John, to follow him and become “fishers of men”  (the translation from the original Greek is “fishers of people”). They abandon their boats, nets, family, and fellow workers and follow Jesus, putting Jesus and his mission ahead of business interests.

Jesus is not only inviting his first disciples but also inviting each of us to follow him, the only prerequisites being to repent and follow the Gospel. He will be faithful to us, showing us his paths and unconditional love.

Whether we are faced with a secular or a spiritual issue, it is important to be prepared. Our God is willing to warn us to get our spiritual life in order but, we may not know the day or the hour and not have the time. We need to be in right relationship at all times, to be faithful as our God is faithful.

Sister Beryl Herdt, O.P.

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