Jonah 3:1-5, 10, First Corinthians 7:29-31, Mark 1:14-20
To change something means to make something appear different from the way it uses to be. Change means that there is a transformation process going on. Hence when we try to make our life different or transform from the way it used to be, then change is invariably taking place.
Everything that happens in the reading of today reflects a way of transformation or change from the previous way of life to another life that is more meaningful. So when we talk of the way to change we mean the way to change for the better. In the first reading, the Ninevites repented after hearing the word of Jonah which signifies a total change in the way they were leaving their lives and in the gospel the apostles were transformed from fishermen to fishers of men, signifying a life of change from what the use to be to another sphere of life.
God’s Interest in Us.
All these while, God chooses the people of Israelites as a people to Himself and the Old Testament was more of this close relationship between God and them. Nineveh is not a Jewish city but a city that belongs to the Assyrian Empire. The first place the city of Nineveh was mentioned was in Genesis 10:11 as a city built by Nimrod, the hunter that led to the building of the tower of Babel.
Nineveh became well known when it was made the capital of Assyria by King Sennacherib (705-681 BC). So why did God later focus His interest on Nineveh? Many who try to provide a reason for this say that their lives were totally evil.
Nineveh was a city full of wickedness and evil. Their evil was so great that God has to intervene (Jonah 1:1-2). It is also this divine interest to save us that God sends His Son Jesus Christ to come and save us from the power of sin.
God is very interested in the way we live our lives. We live and hence think that no one is interested. We have to know that He is always interested in whatever actions we take. He wants us to change for good. He hates evil. Sending Jonah to a gentile territory is a sign that He is always willing to intervene and save the entire world and it is for this reason that Jesus came.
The Way We can Change
Sometimes we find it very hard to change the way we live our lives. From these readings, we can delineate the way one can live and change His life for the better. They are;
Listening to His Word.
In the gospel when Jesus is calling the apostles, they are already doing something. Simon and His brother Andrew are casting a net inside the lake while James and John are mending their nets. They are very busy but immediately when they hear Jesus speaks, they respond to Him.
In the first reading, the only instrument of change used by Jonah to save the people of Nineveh was nothing but the word of God. So, in the first reading, we can see that despite how brief the message of Jonah was, yet it produced great results.
In today’s gospel, Jesus began His ministry telling people to repent and believe in this word. Hebrews 4:12 describes the word of God as something that is alive, active, very sharp than any sharpest sword. It can penetrate any soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It can judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. When we sincerely listen to it and live by it, it produces significant effects. We remain where we are because we neglect to hear from Him. We seem to be so busy that we do not have time for God.
Understanding that We have a Mission.
In the midst of evil in the land of Nineveh God sends Jonah to go and preach against it
When we understand the reason why we are in the world, we would thread caution in everything that we do. When the need for man to be saved Jesus came into the world. Before Jesus comes, God sends John the Baptist to prepare a way for Him. There is a reason we are in this world. We are not here just to live in the world and depart.
Everything has a reason. Today, Jesus calls some people who are going to continue His work and make it reach the end of the earth. He gives His disciples the mandate to go to the ends of the earth and preach salvation, making disciples in all nations. (Matthew 28:19). Let us always know that we have work to do. There is a major reason where you are. You are not born in a particular family for no reason. God knows how meaningful you can be. We have to understand this.
Our Response Produces the Change.
In the parable of the Sower of Matthew 13, we can see that the problem we have is not that the sower does not always sow, it is the response that makes the difference. The way we respond to God’s word is what produces the change. In the gospel, it was the immediate response from the apostles who even abandoned their father and the boats that changed them.
In the first reading what changed the Ninevites is that immediately they listened to Jonah they put on sackcloth and proclaimed a fast all through the land, which was a significant sign of repentance. The reading says that God immediately relents from His punishment when He sees how repentant they are. If we truly want to change, we have to make sincere efforts towards the change.
Repent and Believe.
At the beginning of the gospel, Jesus gives us two appropriate responses required of us if we truly want to change for good. The Greek word used here for repentance is metanoia (μετάνοια) which literally means after or beyond-thought. meta means”after” and noia from nous means the mind. It literally means going beyond the mind. It is a change of life that comes from a serious change of mind. To repent means we have to change our minds from seeking evil to seeking what is good.
Repentance is not when we feel guilty of our pasts but when we decide to change the way we live to the way God wants us to live. This decision starts with the heart. It is always normal to feel bad but until we change the way we have been living, we have not repented. These two responses also manifested in the life of the Ninevites today. Hearing Jonah’s message, the first reading says that there was massive repentance and they believed God immediately. To believe in the gospel is to believe in Jesus Christ who is present in the gospel.
To Follow Jesus.
When Jesus calls the apostles today, He tells them; come after me and I will make you fishers of the people. Some translations say; fishers of men. To come after someone means to follow the person sequentially. Hence it means to do what He is doing and live the way He lives. Hence Jesus is telling us that if we truly want to change and if we are serious to repent, we have to follow Him and not the world. We have to live the way He wants and not the way we want. We have to follow his ideals and not that of the world. Hence after we have responded to His word, changed our minds and believe in Him, we have to make Him our role model.
1. Nineveh was given forty days to repent. The time and chance we have now is an opportunity to always turn to God. When God gives us opportunities to come back let us not think it is by our power that we are still living. What could have happened if the Ninevites hardened their hearts. In the same vein, who knows the type of punishment we avert when we decide to change our lives. When a family decides to make peace instead of quarrel, who knows the type of problems that they have averted. Repentance is for our own good.
2. As God sends Jonah to change the Ninevites, He also sends us to the world to be world changers. He sends you into that place you are now to do some significant works for Him. You are not there for the sake of being there. What have you done for God? As Jesus calls the apostles to follow after Him, He is also calling us to follow His way. To care the way He cares, and work the way He does. He wants us to relate with God and to the people the way He does.
3. Jesus brings us Good news and today calls His apostles who will continue to do the same. Also, the message Jonah took to the Ninevites transformed and changed them for good. What type of message do we bring to people? Does our message change people to good or the worst? Do we always bring good news to where we are, where we work and in whatever we do or do we bring bad news? What does our presence mean to people?
4. Finally when Jonah preached at Nineveh, they abandoned their old way of lives and changed for good. When Jesus calls the apostles, they abandon their nets, their father, boat and their fishes to follow Jesus. This is a sign that Jesus is more important to them than anything. If we truly want to change and be for God, we have to abandon that thing that draws us away from God. We have to abandon whatever that takes the place of God in our lives.
We have to abandon that wayward living, that spirit of prayerlessness, that hatred, wickedness. Hence, we have to abandon visiting places that do not give God glory. Whatever that can take place of God in our hearts must not exist if we are truly serious about God. May God bless you and happy sunday.
The Power of “ I am Sorry”: Why we need to Apologise.
If we truly want to work for God: Reflection on Mark 3:13-19.
Let Nothing Stop You from doing This
Thanks for This wonderful and well articulated Sunday breakfast.Where you said avoiding some places that do not give God the Glory got me. keep up the good work Fr.
Life changing message indeed! May God grant us sufficient grace to abandon our sinful ways and embrace His ways, which actually lead to eternal life, amen.
A big Amen.Happy Sunday Fr
God bless you