A reading from the Book of Jonah
(Chapter 3:1-5, 10)
The events described in the first reading today take place after the famous episode in which God instructs Jonah to call on the people of Ninevah to repent their sins, and Jonah tries his best to avoid the assignment. After being thrown overboard by the crew of a ship, Jonah is swallowed by a “big fish” which spits him out—conveniently enough, on the shore of Nineveh. In today’s reading, we hear that Jonah took the hint and delivered God’s message, the people of Ninevah repented, and God spared them the punishment he had threatened. The story urges us to submit to God’s will and to spread his message of justice, mercy, and righteousness, even when it difficult for us.
(Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9)
“Good and upright is the LORD; thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice and teaches the humble his way.” These verses from the psalm follow nicely the passage from the Book of Jonah, because they reassure us that God welcomes repentant sinners and forgives our transgressions.
A reading from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians
“I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out…. For the world in its present form is passing away.” Today’s excerpt from Paul’s letter to the Church in Corinth reflects the belief among Christians at that time that the end of the world and the second coming of Christ were imminent. But we shouldn’t dismiss Paul’s advice on this and other occasions that folks should prepare for those events. We shouldn’t try to live at peace with God because we don’t want to get caught short when the end comes, as though we were playing musical chairs, but rather because we want to live at peace with God all the time. God has given us existence, life, the world that sustains us, loving relationships, and—most important of all—his love so great that he gave the life of his only Son so that we might live forever. Every aspect of our lives should reflect our gratitude for God’s generosity whether the end is near or a billion years away.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark
Today’s gospel passage includes the episode in which Jesus offers to make Simon Peter and Andrew “fishers of men.” Jesus didn’t mean to confine that invitation to those brothers, nor did he intend to confine the target of their ministry to “men.” Jesus calls us to the same discipleship to which he summoned Peter and Andrew. That means that Jesus calls us to attract men and women to him by the way we live. That means showing that we are both grateful and proud to be Christians. It also means how others see us treating family members, friends, and strangers; helping people who are in material or spiritual need; caring for the earth; and worshipping God. How does that make us fishers of anyone? As the song says, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
Image: The Calling of St. Peter and St. Andrew, Bernardo Strozzi (1581-1644). Public domain.
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved. The passage regarding the wedding garment is from The New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved.
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.