January 21, 2018

A HOMILY FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME –  CYCLE “B” –  1/21/18  –  SMG

+  Pax et Bonum!    Peace and goodness to you this day!

Last weekend, the entire world was horrified to hear the news from Hawaii, that for 38 minutes last Saturday morning, many people in Hawaii thought that they were about to be hit, by a nuclear missile.  This warning and notification that went out, turned out to be completely false, but unfortunately at the time, seemed totally believable in light of recent tensions between North Korea and our government.   Can you imagine what that must have been like?  Thirty-eight minutes of thinking that your world as you knew it, was about to be destroyed!  What would you do?  Where would you go?  What would you try and save and protect?  How would you use your last minutes?

The events in Hawaii last week, make all of us think about we do at responding to warnings, and calls, and promptings.  Sometimes we can do really well.  And sometimes we’re pretty good at ignoring them.  A thermonuclear missile, a tornado warning, a fire alarm, a heart attack can get our attention, and get us to move pretty quickly.  The morning alarm, with a snooze button, the challenge to lose some weight, or stop smoking, or get some exercise, or even the call or challenge to get more involved, or volunteer, or make a change in our life, all of these are much easier to ignore, or put-off, or conveniently never get around to doing.  And sometimes our spiritual challenges, those warnings, and calls, and promptings from God, are the easiest to ignore.  And that’s not such a good idea.

Take for example, in our first reading, Jonah, begrudgingly preaches in Nineveh, an enormously large city that took three days to get through, for only one day, and everybody from the King of Nineveh on down, immediately repents and asks forgiveness for their sins.  That’s pretty amazing!  They take the hint.  God doesn’t have to destroy them, for them to realize that they have sinned and that they need to turn back to God.  God has done Jonah’s job for him.  Jonah is not really happy about that, but Nineveh is saved, because they listened, they heeded the warning, and God spared them.  How about us?  How many times do you think that God is going to keep warning us about our sinfulness?  It’s like we have this spiritual alarm going off warning us, that our sinfulness is getting us into big trouble with God, but we just keep ignoring that alarm, don’t we?  In fact, it is a lot more serious than a thermonuclear missile, but we kinda just keep putting off that repenting thing, don’t we?  That’s scary!

Our second reading today, even seems to make things even more dire, when the first letter to the Corinthians says that time is running out.  The world in its present form is passing away.  Did you catch that?  I would say that that is a warning we might want to pay attention to, and that was written by St. Paul almost two-thousand years ago.  We don’t have forever.

Then, today, we come to our Gospel, Jesus Himself starts out His ministry by saying, “This is the time of fulfillment.  The Kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe in the Gospel.”  Then He calls the fishermen Apostles, Andrew and Peter, and James and John.  And did you notice, all four of these Apostles, immediately abandoned their boats, and their nets, and their former ways of life, and follow Jesus.  Jesus’s warning, His call, His nudging them to come and follow Him, and they do!  Immediately!  It is as though these first Apostles change their hearts as quickly as did the people of Nineveh!  There’s no discernment, or formation, or even taking leave of their old lives.  They just do it.  And they are never the same again!

My brothers and sisters, we really need to try to fight the temptations that we have, of becoming complacent about the alarms and warnings that go off in our hearts, or the nudges that we receive from God!  God’s direction to us is not always as obvious as Jonah’s warnings to Nineveh or Jesus’ call to His first followers.  God does nudge us out of spiritual harm many times, but we’ve got to be listening, and paying attention.  If we aren’t then we risk occasions of sin or missing out on opportunities to flourish and do great things for God.  God’s nudges and calls aren’t always away from bad things either.   Sometimes, we need to listen and pay attention to God’s calls, warnings, promptings, and nudges to find the good things in our lives, and where we are supposed to be!  God is constantly guiding us in our vocations, every bit as much as He did Andrew, Peter, James, and John!  But are we listening?  It is true that sometimes, God gets our attention with great dramatic events, divine lightning bolts!  But for most of us, most of the time, God’s promptings are much more subtle.  So we have to pay close attention in listening to God’s voice and in sensing the gentle touch of His purposeful nudge.

We all long to be happy.  And God truly longs for us to be happy too!  We will be happy if we cooperate with faith and love to the Lord’s invitation to come and follow Him.  God knows our abilities and how each of us fits into His grand design of things.  He encourages us to follow our heart’s desires, but He wants us to live holy lives, and to have holy relationships.  And so while each and every one of us is free to choose our own path, accepting a friendly nudge, or even a warning from God, that sets on the right path, is a good thing!  It is especially a blessing when it leads us to happiness for us, and a better world for all.  And ultimately, on a path that leads to our eternal life with Him.  So let us listen to God’s alarms, His calls, and even His nudges, and may we be quick and joyful to respond!

+  May God bless us this day,  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…              AMEN !!!

St. Maria Goretti…     Pray for us !!!