|3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
So as to be more available to the graces of these readings, we might imagine Jesus walking along the shore with a fishing reel resting on his shoulder. He stops to cast out a line and hooks a fellow who is casting nets from the back of his boat. Jesus begins reeling him in. He tumbles out of the boat and lands, drenched on the shore at the feet of Jesus. This manís partner tried to grab hold of him and got pulled into the water and is now lying next to his partner. Jesus does not apologize, but helps them up, but does not remove the hook. He begins pulling the catch gently further along the shore.
We have been invited these past weeks to watch Jesus being called out of the water of the Jordan and into his life of being the Savior. Last week we watched Johnís account of Jesusí calling his first followers. There is much calling and responding to which we are invited as well.
There are many voices calling for our attention, investment, and commitment. We can pray with these attractions, distractions, seductions to indulgence and self-grandeur. They are in the advertisement, which call from our newspapers, televisions, posters and catalogues. They call to certain elements of our humanity.
We can also pray to hear Godís call to the deepest part of our souls and hearts. Godís hooking us is for our freedom and for what is good for us. It is an enjoyable prayer to pray with what our culture tries to convince us is real and soul filling. We will be hearing for the next weeks from Markís Gospel about what Jesus thinks is good for us and for others through us. We will be distracted, that comes with the total human package, but Jesus, just one of those many voices, will keep speaking, calling us out of our boats and on to the shore of what is really real and good.
We hear in the First Reading of Jonahís second call. The first one frightened him so much he ran away got on a ship from which he got thrown overboard and was swallowed by a whale. Undigested, he repented and was coughed up on the shore. God has many ways to get our attention.
So back to his second calling. Of course this time he listened carefully and went off to continue the call by God to the people of Nineveh. The city and its inhabitants listened to Jonahís part in Godís summons to repentance. When the people repented then God did too and did not carry out what Jonah had prophesied.
The Gospel is Markís account of Jesusí calling his first four disciples from their lives of fishing to lives of finding. Jesus does not tell them where they will find fish next or for how long this expedition will take. They are all being called into the mystery of a relationship. The deeper that relationship, the more trust is needed to walk into its future.
Would that it were that easy for us, we might ponder. What attracted these four to leave everything is strange to us. We might wonder if the fishing had gone bad lately and they figured, nothing ventured, nothing gained. They were leaving family, occupation and the known and as they journeyed, they were to become familiar with the insecurity of the unknown which only deepened the initiating relationship with Jesus.
We have had experiences in our lives of wondering if we were at the right place and doing the right things. Waiting for friends at airports, we might worry if we have the right date, right flight. We could worry about whether we are at the right school, right job, best this, most profitable that. The more personal the area of choice and decision the more insecurity presents itself. This all gets even more problematic when we insert the question of what God is calling us to be and do.
Jonah and the first disciples were called from the water. Jesus was called up out of the water. We are called from the waters of birth to be human and Baptism to be blest and sent. So we are all human which has some frightening limitations such as our not knowing the future, the outcomes. Jesus came up and kept on going. The first Apostles were caught up and stumbled along after. We follow Jesus and the tumbling, stumbling Apostles into our own ways of living out our having been drenched for mission. We have in common with Jesus and the Apostles our missions and the more basic call to do God'sí will!?!? What is that exactly!?!?
Godís will is to love us, give us life and bring us to maturity in Christ. Godís will is for us to be human with all its limitations and strengths of which trusting is not one. We are oriented to want to know so this becomes that to which Jesus calls directly as our act of love. The apostles and we are invited to the same trust of God to which Jesus was invited in his Baptism. We are baptized into him and his way of loving his Father; he trusted.
So we wait for our friends right here, because we trust what they wrote concerning their arrival time. Trusting is a great sign and sacrament of our love for others. What we are called to be and do is the same, trust that who we are and what we are doing is what Godís love wants to give us.
There are no God-O-Grams which arrive occasionally to affirm us and our choices. There are Scriptural passages which push us out into deeper water or pull us into deeper relationships with Jesus on the shore. There are interior movements of our souls which comfort us with the sense that this is where Godís love is more available to us than anywhere else.
I was fishing with my brother and his young son and doing well, but the young lad wanted to keep moving, because there might be more and bigger ones ďover there.Ē Whereís the right place? The answer has to do with being available to be loved and caught ourselves by Godís love and where we can share it so as to catch others. Happy fishing, Jesus.
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