By Fr. Angelo Anthony, C.PP.S.
How are you awakened each morning? Is there an internal clock that wakes you up? Is there a preset alarm clock that announces the new day? Do you rely on another person to call you—“Tom, Amy, get up!”–or do you need something more drastic like a splash of water to get you rolling you out of bed?
Our readings today offer a kind of wake-up call. Jesus says: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” Now, you might be thinking, “Did I just wake up from a long winter’s nap and it’s Lent already?”
No, it’s not the season of Lent. That comes next month. The need to repent is something important for us to consider on a regular basis because we all need to hear the call to on-going conversion. It’s like the fourth-grade teacher who was doing a presentation on proverbs, those sayings that teach a lesson. As examples she shared a few proverbs with her class. “A stitch in time saves nine. Haste makes waste.” Then she asked her class to fill in the missing word, “Cleanliness is next to . . . ?”
After a pause one young boy responded “Impossible. Cleanliness is next to impossible.” There is a kernel of truth in this statement! Cleanliness is next to godliness and cleanliness is next to impossible. We are each a combination of saint and sinner. That is why we must be attentive to the need for repentance. To make a change for the better, and the time is NOW.
We believe in faith that God has created each of us for some particular purpose in life and we are to follow God’s call to the best of our ability. Jonah tried to run from God’s call because in his opinion there was no way that the hated people of Nineveh would repent. God gives Jonah a wake-up call in the belly of the fish and eventually he sends him back to Nineveh. How many times have we tried to run from God’s call saying, I’m too tired or too busy, they’re too sinful or will never listen? When Jonah followed God’s call and proclaimed repentance there was an amazing power released upon the city of Nineveh and they repented. It’s a reminder to us that when we are in step with God, amazing things can happen even in the midst of a terrible situation.
In the Gospel, Jesus invites Simon and Andrew, James and John to follow him. They were caught up in the nets of their worldly ways and Jesus gives them a wake-up call to drop their old way of life, to focus on a life centered in God. Sometimes we get caught up in a net of unhealthy patterns of living or dysfunctional thinking, or we become slaves to material possessions, our job or our calendar. Sometimes the net of selfishness catches our heart, and we forget about the crying needs of the world around us. Jesus is asking us to drop those nets and follow him.
Our readings this weekend carry a sense of urgency and immediacy. Time is running out. Turn away from your old sinful ways. In a world that so easily embraces the culture of death, Jesus is asking us to wake from our sleep and to work for the culture of life. As St. John Paul II said in his encyclical, The Gospel of Life, “Precisely by contemplating the precious blood of Christ, the sign of his self-giving love, the believer learns to recognize and appreciate the almost divine dignity of every human being. It is from the blood of Christ that all draw the strength to commit themselves to promoting life. It is precisely this blood that is the most powerful source of hope; indeed, it is the foundation of the absolute certitude that in God’s plan life will be victorious.” (25)
Hear Jesus say to you, “This is the time of fulfillment and I need your help. Come follow me and you’ll be amazed at what can happen.”
To view the full scripture reading, click here.
Fr. Angelo Anthony, C.PP.S., is the pastor of the Downtown Dayton parishes, which include Emmanuel, Holy Trinity and St. Joseph. He also serves as the vice moderator general of the worldwide Congregation.