Homily Third Sunday Year B Discipleship

By 12:42 PM

Homily Third Sunday Year B
Reading 1: This is a condensed version of the full story about Jonah and God’s call to him to preach repentance in Nineveh.  Initially, Jonah didn’t want to go to the pagan city. He thought it would be a waste of his time. He ran away from and ignored God’s plan to do his own thing. But God, through extraordinary experiences, reminded Jonah that it was the mercy of God to give the Ninevites a chance to repent. Reluctantly and probably with little enthusiasm or conviction, Jonah went to the town and began to preach a call to repentance.

To his amazement and later anger at them and God, they heard and responded to the grace of repentance immediately. Instead of experiencing God’s wrath, they were spared. We see in this event the mercy of God for a people other than the chosen people of Israel.

How often have we heard the call of God to turn away from sin and to turn back to God, but did not respond as totally and rapidly as the non-believing Ninevites? Do we presume on God’s mercy and think there is time? At the beginning of Lent, Ash Wednesday, we will hear the prophetic call of Isaiah: “Repent. Turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel.” What response did we give in the past? What response will we give in the present? A grace word from the Old Testament reminds us: “If today you hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts.” The grace of repentance is a daily gift from God.

Gospel: Jesus echoes the call of Jonah to the Ninevites to his own people (and to us). Repent and believe in the Gospel: the Good News of God’s love and mercy. But then he adds another step in the process. He calls us not only to repent and turn away from sin, then to believe that the Lord loves us and desires to save us, but to act. This third step sometimes is missing in one’s journey.

Like the rich man, who came to Jesus wanting to know what must he do to have eternal life, though knowing and hearing the truth, he failed to act on it. Jesus, called him to become a disciple, totally depending on the Master. In contrast, when Peter, Andrew, John and James heard the same invitation, they responded immediately. They became his disciples

To be a disciple of Jesus doesn’t mean that we have to leave everything. Rather, it means that we don’t let our station in life prevent us from hearing and acting on God’s word to us. It is not that husbands and wives must leave each other and go off to a monastery. Rather it means that God is first in their lives, their spouse is under God and their children are next. To follow Jesus is to seek what is good, pleasing and perfect in the will of God for us in a given situation.

The world may say one thing to us, but what God says should be the foundation for the disciple.  Whom will I really follow: the world, myself or God? To follow the Lord is a daily call that requires a daily response.

Reading 2: The words of this reading are not meant to frighten us.  These are given to us so that we can look at our lives as a disciple from God’s perspective.
Paul, like many of the first century Christians, really expected Jesus to return in glory within their life time. At the same time Paul was very conscious of the reality of death. So what he says can be looked at from either of these perspectives.
This world in its present form is passing away.  We need to remember what Jesus said: We are in the world but not of the world.  We belong to Jesus as his disciple not to the world. 

While in the world we have to do what is necessary to live adequately. But we must keep everything in perspective of eternity. How will this relationship, this situation, this decision impact my call as a son or daughter of God, as a disciple to live with God forever?


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