The Urgency and Shortness of Our Time
Readings: 1st: Jon 3:1-5. 10; Ps 24:4-9; 2nd: 1Cor 7:29-31: Gos: Mk 1:14-20
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
On this third Sunday of ordinary time, the church reminds us of a particular urgency, the shortness of our time in this world. This is the theme that runs through the three readings of this Sunday. If time is short, we must not hold tenaciously to this world that is quickly passing away. Instead, we must believe the good news and live for the Kingdom of God that is already with us here on earth.
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In the first reading, Jonah lamented and warned the Ninevites: “Only forty days, and Nineveh will be destroyed.” Nineveh’s inhabitants heard the message, believed it, repented, and God had mercy on them. I have often wondered if the homilies, sermons, and religious teachings we hear almost every day make an impact on our lives.
If they do, why are we still the way we are today? Why is wickedness, corruption, hatred, armed robbery, killing, immorality, and injustice persisting and increasing in our world? Most times, one hears compliments like: “The Pastor or the priest preached well today. Today’s sermon was exciting and powerful!” Also, sometimes during homilies, one hears exclamations like: “Amen! Alleluia! Yes, Lord!
Honestly, these are not wrong if they genuinely issue from the heart. However, the question is, does the message make an impact on us? Jonah preached just a brief and urgent sermon. Quickly, the people of Nineveh believed in God, repented, and fasted with sackcloth. How much longer must we wait before we till our hearts for the word of God? The good news must be treated as a matter of urgency.
In the second reading, Paul also reminds us that “Our time is growing short! The world is passing away!” Paul simply refers to the notion of sensitivity and urgency that should mark our lives and actions. He draws our attention to the signs of the time. Unfortunately, many of us ignore these signs. Perhaps, this could be because we are economically and materially comfortable right now. However, the truth is that none is safe! Events in history have proved that we are all vulnerable, safe with God’s grace.
So, we all must be ready because Paul’s warning affects everyone: The married, the single, those mourning, those rejoicing, the rich and the poor, leaders and followers, etcetera. This warning comes at the appropriate time. Through it, Paul calls us to reevaluate our relationship with God and our world. It is a wakeup call to accept the good news and to bear authentic witness to it.
In today’s gospel, Christ preached the same urgent message preached by Jonah and John the Baptist “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news.” Like the Ninevites, the disciple of Christ heard this message responded to it with urgency, each being sensitive, and knowing that there was no more time to waste. The Disciples listened to the master’s word: “Follow me,” and they simply obeyed and followed Him.
So, Jesus continues to invite us to participate in his mission, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” This is a life-transforming invitation and mission. Our response to it should be urgent and positive. This is because it is for our good and that of others. Fishers of Men simply mean partners in the kingdom. They are those who are willing to go the extra mile to help others. They are those ready to collaborate with Christ in his ministry.
Finally, my brethren, if our time is short, if our world is passing away, if we have only forty days left, and if the kingdom of God is close at hand, why waste the little time we have hating, sinning, and running only after material things? We must use it to seek, serve, and worship our God; live in peace and love with others; and positively affect others and our society. We must take advantage of this short time to “Seek what is good and pure, what is noble and true” (Phil 4:8).
Peace be with You!