Homily Third Sunday Year B Repent and follow

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Homily Third Sunday Year B


Reading 1: God had commissioned Jonah as a prophet sent to the pagan people of the city of Nineveh. He was to preach a message of repentance and conversion. If they did not repent for their sins, destruction would be their lot. Jonah did not want to do this, so he fled from the Lord, boarded a ship to go far away from God. You know the story. God got Jonah’s attention through a storm and through the crew of the ship throwing him overboard. Then a whale swallowed him up and then spewed him near a shore. Once more God called Jonah to obey his command.


Does that sound like us some times? We know what God wants us to do, but we try to run away from the Lord. We forget that he is God and we can’t hide from him.


We pick up the story in today’s reading. Jonah goes and preaches to the people of Nineveh a message of repentance and call to conversion. But he does it almost under protest. He really doesn’t want them to repent. But as we heard, after preaching one day, the whole city from the king tot the least responded. God spared them.


But this is not the whole story. When Jonah saw that the people responded to the call of God and God did not destroyed them, Jonah was angry with God because he said I knew you were going to forgive them. Why should I have wasted my time.  Jonah forgot the words of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah: “My ways are not your ways; my thoughts are not your thoughts. Jonah was asked to be obedient, but he did only grudgingly. His heart was not in it. Sound familiar?


Gospel: Our Gospel is divided into two parts. Jesus was obedient to the plan of the Father for him. Unlike Jonah, he didn’t run away but embraced the will of God freely and totally. He too was to preach to the Israelites a message of repentance in preparation for the salvation that he would bring to them and the whole world.


Where Jonah was called to preach, Jesus was called to preach and save. Where Jonah was initially disobedient and only reluctantly acted on the word of God, Jesus was obedient even to the death on the cross.


How obedient are we and with what attitude do we have in accomplishing the will of God? Paul tells us to have the same attitude that was in Christ Jesus.


In the second part, also reflecting the obedience of Jesus to the Father, Jesus invites others to be disciple by him and to share in his ministry of preaching a message of repentance. These disciples, unlike Jonah, respond immediately. They heard the call: “Come, follow me” and left all to follow Jesus as disciples.


To be discipled by Christ for us doesn’t mean we have to leave everything, but 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. But it means that God is first in their lives.


To follow Jesus is to seek what is good, pleasing and perfect in the will of God in each situation. The world may say one thing, but what does Jesus say. Whom will we listen to and follow? Come follow me is a daily call that requires a daily response. Whom will I truly follow: the world, myself, or God?


Reading 2: The words of the first reading were not meant to frighten us, nor are those of the second reading. Paul gives us a practical reason for responding to the call of Jesus to follow him as a disciple. The world in its present for is passing away. There is something greater that God is offering us. While living in the world we are to remember we are not of the world. We are pilgrims here. We are citizens of an eternal Kingdom, which Jesus spoke about in the Gospel: the kingdom of God. Our focus needs to be eternity rather than what is passing. 

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