Leaving a Better World
3rd Sunday, Year B, 24 January 2021
St Paul’s advice for Christian living seems alarmingly negative: life is very short, so don’t get too caught up in things of the world, whether relationships, politics, economics or cultural pursuits. His reason is simple: “the world as we know it is passing away”.
In fact, the passing nature of the world in which we live today is occurring at an increasingly rapid pace due to the technological revolution which impacts on jobs, communications, travel, climate, habitat, lifestyle, business, recreation, to name a few. Time seems to be moving faster and the experiences of life more fleeting.
In other terms, we recognise increasing threats of terrorism, global warming, nuclear war and what is fast becoming the largest mass migration of human beings in history. While the biblical destruction of Nineveh did not come to pass, we must wonder if the destruction of peoples, cultures and entire eco-systems in our current world is not the impending Nineveh disaster of our own times.
Clearly, it is now our time to listen to the voices of the prophets ably summarised in the words of Jesus: “The time has come; the kingdom of God is close at hand; repent and believe in the Good News”. Or in the words of Pope Francis: “It is we human beings who need to change” if we are “to safeguard our common home” (planet earth), enact justice for all people, especially the poor and marginalised, and provide a world that will be habitable for future generations.
Jonah, John the Baptist, Jesus and Francis are at one in challenging human greed and corruption which threaten us and our world. However, no matter how things may appear, there is no cause for despair. We have genuine human, spiritual and practical options. Like Simon, Andrew, James and John, we too are being “called by name” to leave behind the things that bind us, and to become missionary disciples of God’s justice and mercy. This is what Jesus calls “the Good News” and what Francis calls “The joy of the Gospel”.
To be sure, we are not capable of saving ourselves or our world. The great teaching of Christianity is that only God brings reconciliation, healing, final hope and salvation. But God calls us to be partners in this work of creation and salvation. Like the prophets and apostles before us, we too are called to be co-workers with Christ and the Holy Spirit in enabling the “reign of God” to come about.
We must pray for the courage of the first disciples to give ourselves wholeheartedly to our relationship with Jesus and to his mission of mercy. Likewise, we pray that the Church, its leaders and ourselves will not shy away from the radical demands of the gospel and discipleship.
Gerard Hall SM
© Majellan Media 2021