HOMILY FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
HOMILY THEME: REPENT; BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL
BY: Fr. Abbot Philip Lawrence
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
Repent! Here we are in Ordinary Time and it sounds like Lent! The beginning of the ministry of Jesus Christ begins with Jesus calling His followers to repent. Repent in this context means to change the direction of one’s life. And we see with clarity where Jesus is pointing us: Believe in the Gospel!
The first reading today is the story of Jonah preaching repentance in the city of Nineveh. The preaching of Jonah was completely successful and the whole city repented including the rulers. Although Jonah did not want the city to repent but rather wanted it destroyed, we see that the people respond to Jonah’s preaching and God “repented” of the evil which He had planned.
We need to hold this in our hearts: the people repented and God also repented. Both were willing to change the direction of their intentions. We don’t normally think of God repenting but surely the repentance of God is part of the Gospel that Jesus is proclaiming. God’s only intention is our salvation and our good. Whenever God is presented as angry in the Scriptures, it is because God loves us and the hope is that God’s anger will bring us to repentance and then God Himself will repent. This probably is not the way that we think of God but we need to listen to God’s Scriptures and discover again God’s love for us.
The second reading is from the First Letter to the Corinthians. We are told in this small section that the world is passing away and that our actions must change. We must put all of our energy into seeking God and the ways of God.
Then we come to the Gospel of Saint Mark again. Jesus preaching the Gospel! So often we only think of the Gospel as the preaching about Jesus Christ. Even in the Old Testament we find the word “gospel” in the Greek translation and is usually translated as “good news.” What is the good news that Jesus preaches? It is this: believe that God loves us and sends His Son for our salvation! As always, if we won’t accept this Good News, nevertheless it is true. Our challenge is always to accept the Gospel given to us in Christ Jesus and to be so moved by it that we ourselves draw others to know the love and mercy of God.
Fr. Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB Christ in the Desert Monastery, Abiquiu, New Mexico