Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Thoughts from our Pastor

(Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1 Cor. 7:29-31; Mark 1: 14-20)

We sometimes joke about how hard it is to get everyone to agree… on anything! And perhaps, that accounts for some of the notice that is drawn  to all three of today’s readings. The call for repentance and change weaves it way through Jonah, I Corinthians and Mark in a very clear and tangible way. The stark call seems a bit abrupt after just celebrating Christ’s Birth, the Motherhood of Mary and the Epiphany of the Lord to the entire world. But maybe it is not so abrupt when we consider Christ’s being born was meant to call us to liberation and freedom from the power of sin, new life and hope, change or joyful repentance!

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, in answering questions about the recent terrorism in France rightly condemned the slaughter of innocent people… he also went on to say we should not make fun of others beliefs or faith, but rather manifest respect. He has repeated our Church’s teachings… but also called us to mercy and compassion rather than condemnation, when we or others do not achieve all that is hoped for or expected. Pope Francis has clearly been inviting us to see “God’s Family” as including all of our brothers and sisters and not just those “like us”!

Perhaps that is the message of today’s readings. We are called to repent… and change… from our one-sided, limited perspective of God’s will, to leave behind the narrow vision which we have made God’s Plan into, we are called to place a higher value on Mercy and Compassion, rather than on revenge, masquerading under the banner of justice. We are called to be different!

One person told a group of us the other day in a meeting that “all” people need “evangelization”. And that those already Catholic need to become “EXITED CATHOLICS!” If the emphasis falls on becoming an “exited Catholic” through “repentance” then the word “repentance” does not sound so bad. … And so we are invited to “repent” …and become “exited” about being servant-church Catholic.

Father Shields


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