Come Follow Me

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jonah 3:1-5, 10

The word of the LORD came to Jonah, saying: "Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you." So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh, according to the LORD'S bidding. Now Nineveh was an enormously large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day's walk announcing, "Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed, " when the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth. When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away.

Mark 1:14-20

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.

One of the most extraordinary passages in Jack London’s Call of the Wild demonstrates the magnetic pull of the “call”:

Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest, and on and on, he knew not where or why; nor did he wonder where or why, the call sounding imperiously, deep in the forest.

Have you ever experienced such a powerful call in your life? How did you respond to it? Did you heed the call and immediately follow it like the brothers Simon and Andrew; James and John, in the Gospel of Mark, or did you run away like Jonah in this Sunday’s first reading?

Often, we feel that the only voice we hear is the call to success, wealth, power, popularity, or recognition. Henri Nouwen explains that “when we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection” (Nouwen,”Being the Beloved”, https://themysteryofchrist.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/henri-nouwen-being-the-beloved-sermon-1-of-8). When these false and critical voices begin to fill our space, we feel worthless and abandoned. Therefore, “self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the ‘Beloved’” (Ibid).

This Sunday’s readings lead us into the mystery of God’s loving invitation for each of us. In the first reading, God calls Jonah to herald the urgency of repentance to the people of Nineveh, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3: 4). Nineveh exemplifies a typical “sin city” where citizens have turned a deaf ear to God’s voice that calls them “Beloved”. Instead, they pursue worldly pleasures that can never bring them true contentment or joy. Upon Jonah’s proclamation, the king of Nineveh immediately declares a fast and that everyone to be covered with sackcloth as a sign of their repentance. “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity” (3:10). Jonah, after many unsuccessful attempts of running away from God, recognizes he, too, needs God’s deliverance as he prays in the belly of the fish, “But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Deliverance belongs to the Lord” (2:9). His troubles, in a way, clear the path for him to recognize God’s loving voice and wholeheartedly submits himself to God’s unique mission for him. In the same way, the Psalmist echoes Jonah’s prayer, “Lord, make me know your ways, teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation” (Ps 25: 4-5). To heed God’s voice is to know God’s “ways”, “paths” and “truth”. When we accept God’s invitation to “come and follow”, we embark on an adventure of knowing ourselves and God more deeply and truly.

In the Gospel of Mark, when Jesus calls Simon, Andrew, James, and John, each immediately gets up and abandons his work, family, and life to follow Jesus. Interestingly, none shows any hesitation. Perhaps they recognize at the heart of Jesus’ invitation to “come and follow” is a voice that calls them “Beloved”. By abandoning their lives to Christ, they enter into a deeper relationship with God. Through their “yes”, not only do they get to know God’s “ways” and “truth” but they are also compelled to share this truth with others.

God calls Jonah to herald the message of repentance to Nineveh and others to become “fishers of people” (Mk 1:17). Though, each of us is called to different tasks, the same loving voice beckons. Therefore, like Jonah, Simon, Andrew, James, and John, “O that today you would listen to his voice! Do not harden your hearts” (Ps 95:7).

Posted: January 21, 2018

Susanna Mak

 
Susanna深信,信仰需要在日常生活中顯露出來,尤其是當與別人相處時,需要分擔對方所面對的困境、抉擇和挑戰。她有着很多不同的身份:女兒、姐姐、朋友、姨姨、妻子、老師、校牧、終身學習者和偶爾替《生命恩泉》寫作的作者。在每一個身份當中, 她努力為天主的愛和希望作見証。 她在多倫多擔任高中教師近二十年,擁有英語、學生讀寫能力、青年領袖活動、校牧組等經驗。 她是多倫多大學商業和英語學士,教育學士,亞省Athabasca大學綜合研究碩士,以及擁有多倫多大學Regis學院神學研究碩士證書。她對於成為《生命恩泉》寫作團隊的一份子, 深感榮幸。 Susanna has a deep conviction that faith needs to be manifested in daily life, particularly, in one’s encounters with others as well as amidst dilemmas, choices, and challenges. She strives to be a living sign of God’s love and hope as a daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife, teacher, chaplain, life-long learner, and occasional writer for FLL. She has been a high school teacher in Toronto for almost 20 years, with experiences in English and literacy, youth leadership initiatives, the Chaplaincy Team, and so on. She has a B. Comm, B.A. in English, and a B. Education from University of Toronto, an M.A. in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University, and a Graduate Certificate of Theological Studies from Regis College, U of T. She is humbled by the opportunity to be part of the FLL Writing Team.


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