In the readings today, both God (through Jonah) and Jesus call for repentance and conversion. We are called to turn away from sin and worldliness – to be willing to abandon everything to follow the Lord. This clearly means stepping out of our comfort zones – releasing luxury and the feeling of safety that we cling to so tightly. It is tough, and can only be accomplished by the grace of God.
Most of us don’t want to make waves. We like it when everything is harmonious. I love the story of Jonah, because I can relate to him. The Lord told him that he must go to Nineveh to deliver a message that Jonah knew the people were not going to want to hear. Jonah was going to meet resistance. Heck! He may have been met with animosity – even hatred. Who would want to walk into a situation like that willingly? It took getting swallowed by a whale, and later spewed out on the shore of Nineveh for God to get Jonah where he needed to be. Thankfully, eventually the people did heed God’s message and changed their ways, donning sackcloth and ashes! Are we willing to go where God is calling us? Are we eager to do what He asks us to do? Are we even checking in with Him on a regular basis to see if we are (in fact) where He wants us to be – doing His Will – not our own?
Can you imagine if our world would heed the warnings we have received in our time – from Fatima and other apparitions? Can you see people actually admitting their sinfulness AND being willing to do hard-core penance? We expect things to come so easily – as though nothing is a big deal. I’m so tired of the laissez faire attitude of “it’s all good. I’m not hurting anyone.” Well people are getting hurt – where it counts most – in the soul!
Another theme of today’s readings is “being called.” January is vocations awareness month – a time when we pray for vocations to the church – and a time for reflecting upon our own vocations. I am so encouraged by the young priests that have recently been ordained in our archdiocese. Because of their fervor, example, and reverence for the eucharist, I believe that more young people will hear God’s call to religious life, and have the courage to answer that call. Sadly, I feel that many Catholics today do not truly see marriage as a sacrament and a vocation. So many don’t consult God about the “choice” of a spouse, or even if marriage is what He wills for them.
Marriage is an important calling, not to be taken lightly. The family is the domestic church. John Paul II said it well when he stated, “As the family goes, so goes the nation.” If the family is healthy & happy, with a good moral compass, our country will follow suit. As marriage and the family has crumbled over the last few decades, our nation has crumbled as well. It is also crucial that Catholics take the vocation of marriage as a sacred calling, because all vocations are either fostered or thwarted in the family.
Today’s readings challenge us to turn away from the temptations and trappings of this world and turn to God. They remind us to take our calling in life seriously. The apostles were called to be fishers of men. By virtue of our baptism, we are called to do the same. So…grab your pole and your tackle box, and let’s get fishing!