January 21, 2024 — Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
JON 3:1-5, 10; PS 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9; 1 COR 7:29-31; MK 1:14-20
Our readings today call us to be decisive in our faith. God calls us as stewards to repent and renew our commitment to Him each day.
In our First Reading, God instructs the prophet Jonah to travel through the city of Nineveh and warns the people that the city would be destroyed due to their evil ways. When the people of Nineveh heard this, they declared a fast in repentance. The Lord saw this and had compassion for them.
Every moment is an opportunity to either grow closer to God or further away from Him. We can identify with the people of Nineveh when we recognize that our actions are not drawing us closer to God. We may be attached to certain sins or living in complacency — over time, that can weaken our commitment to the Lord and sever the relationship we have with Him.
When we become aware of our weaknesses, it should not cause us to despair. Instead, it should call us to act quickly as the people of Nineveh did. Jonah had been gone only a single day’s walk before the people repented. We, too, should go no more than a single day without acknowledging our offenses towards God and renewing our commitment to Him with greater conviction. God wants to be compassionate towards us, but we must be willing to recognize our need to repent.
Our Gospel today shares Mark’s account of Jesus calling His first disciples. In his account, Jesus approaches Simon and Andrew, and later, James and John. These four men were fishermen, casting their nets. Jesus states, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” In both instances, the men immediately abandoned what was before them and followed Christ.
Imagine if Simon and Andrew looked at their Savior and said, “Thanks for the offer, but we will finish up fishing and meet you later.” That is no way a disciple should respond to Christ’s call. Yet, that is how we often respond to Jesus’ offer to us, “Come after me.” We can easily fall into the misconception that we have plenty of time to live active discipleship. We rationalize that we will eventually get around to deepening our commitment to prayer when we have time, even though we have been wanting to do so for months. We can justify that we are too busy right now to make time to go to confession regularly, but tell ourselves we will do it soon once our schedules ease up. But as faithful stewards of our time, we must change our ways and immediately follow Christ more intentionally, because Christ is calling us to act now, just like the first disciples did.
These men became members of Jesus’ 12 apostles. They surrendered their entire lives to follow Christ. They left their jobs, homes, and families, devoting their lives to God’s work. We, too, are called to surrender our lives to the Lord so that He may work through us. We might think, “God isn’t calling me.” But indeed, He is. Just as He called four ordinary fishermen, He is continuously calling each one of us. Renewing and reevaluating what God might be asking of us throughout our lives is a key component of our stewardship journey.
As we settle into this New Year, let us ponder the ways we can repent and renew our commitment to God. Let us ask ourselves, what are we casting our nets for? And are we willing to leave it behind for something much greater? If not now, when?