First reading Jonah 3:1-5,10
The people of Nineveh renounce their evil behaviour
The word of the Lord was addressed to Jonah: ‘Up!’ he said ‘Go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach to them as I told you to.’ Jonah set out and went to Nineveh in obedience to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was a city great beyond compare: it took three days to cross it. Jonah went on into the city, making a day’s journey. He preached in these words, ‘Only forty days more and Nineveh is going to be destroyed.’ And the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least.
God saw their efforts to renounce their evil behaviour, and God relented: he did not inflict on them the disaster which he had threatened.
Responsorial Psalm 24(25):4-6,7b-9
Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my saviour.
Remember your mercy, Lord,
and the love you have shown from of old.
In your love remember me,
because of your goodness, O Lord.
The Lord is good and upright.
He shows the path to those who stray,
He guides the humble in the right path,
He teaches his way to the poor.
Second reading 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
The world as we know it is passing away
Brothers: our time is growing short. Those who have wives should live as though they had none, and those who mourn should live as though they had nothing to mourn for; those who are enjoying life should live as though there were nothing to laugh about; those whose life is buying things should live as though they had nothing of their own; and those who have to deal with the world should not become engrossed in it. I say this because the world as we know it is passing away.
Gospel Mark 1:14-20
I will make you into fishers of men
After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’
As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him.
Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending their nets. He called them at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.
Today’s Gospel is about following Jesus. To do so, the fishermen have to leave their boats behind. So the gospel is also about having the courage to be free to leave behind whatever may be holding us back from responding to his call.
Jesus is calling us to be committed to doing God’s will whatever the circumstances of our life. We hear Jesus renewing his commitment to this right up to the end, as in the Agony he prays: ‘Not my will but yours be done’. Following Jesus means learning from him to have the same commitment.
To want what God in love is inspiring us to be and so to do, and to be willing to let everything go that gets in the way of doing it constitutes the essence of being a disciple of Jesus. It requires three things of us.
Firstly, we need to trust God. We need to believe that God is love and wants for us what is best, however difficult or painful it may be. If we lack this trust we will never be able to leave behind what gives us security and dare a journey that takes us into the unknown.
Secondly, we need to learn to live our life with an attentive heart, listening for the inspiration of the Spirit of love revealing God’s will to us in the various circumstances of our life.
Thirdly, we need the courage to free our heart from whatever proves an obstacle to following what we are being inspired to do.
Fr Michael Fallon msc