Third Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year B
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: Jan 21, 2018
Story of an elderly married couple. They had been married for 40 years. Every evening during their marriage they would sit and watch tv. Each of them sat in exactly the same two seats. Then one evening the husband turned to his wife and said, let’s change tonight, let’s do something really different. The wife was really excited imagining a night out on the town. Then the husband said, let’s change our seats. Sometimes I think a radical change in our church would be just to ask each of you to change your seat!
Change, something we do not like very much. We get very comfortable and want to keep everything the same. We were always this way so we do not want to bother trying to change how we are.
But Jesus, the very first message he preaches in Mark’s Gospel, Repent. Change. He is calling us to change. To turn around. To see things in a new way. The need to repent, to change, is necessary to embrace the Kingdom of God. Someone once said that a Saint is someone who has changed often. We as individual followers of Jesus and we as the Church need to be open and ready to repent, to change.
The prophet Jonah in our First Reading is sent by God to the great city of Nineveh, one of the great cities of the world at that time. He is to call them to repent, to change their way of life. The surprising thing is that they actually listen. The people of Nineveh repent, they see that their way of life was wrong and that they need to change.
The problem for us is that we do not like to change, we like to keep things the same, we get comfortable and it is easier to not change anything. Sometimes we feel that it is not possible for me to change. We get stuck or trapped in our old ways of living, old ways of behaving. That is the way I have always been, I cannot change.
Jesus says Repent and believe the Good News. Repentance and believing the Good News go together. The Good News is the salvation offered freely by God. The forgiveness of sins through the unconditional love, the gracious mercy of God. You do not need to remain stuck in your past, do not need to be remain trapped in your past sins, your past failings, your past bad decisions. A new future is possible. Change is possible.
Pope Francis is on a journey to Chile and Peru. Facing the issue of clergy sex abuse there. See the call for the church as a whole to repent, to face its failings and be ready to change.
There was one visit that I found very moving. The Pope went to visit a woman’s prison. For these women it was a wonderful joyful visit by the Pope to be remembered. They spoke about the mistakes they had made in their life to end up in prison. But, they felt hope that they could change, that they could have a new future. In the Pope they experienced God’s love, the Church’s care. They were believing that they could repent, that they could still have a new future in God’s grace.
Repent and Believe the Good News. Yes, you can change. You do not need to remain stuck in your past sins, your past mistakes, your past failings.