Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Representing Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers, Maryknoll Sisters, and Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Jan 21, 2018
Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20
Prepared by:
Fr. Michael J. Snyder, M.M.

"This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." (MK 1:15)

If Jesus was to return for the second time and come among us today, what would you do? I hope you would be happy and run to greet him. But perhaps you would be hesitant. Perhaps there are some things about you that you would not want Jesus to know. Perhaps you would like to take care of a few things and then come forward to greet him. St. Paul counseled the faithful in Corinth to place Jesus’ second coming front and center in their lives and to be ready at all times.

I once preached this way to students and faculty at the national medical university in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where I served as their chaplain. There were so many daily challenges facing them in this developing country in the workplace, in their studies and at home with their families. With meager resources available there was always the temptation to turn to corrupt practices making medicine more a business than a healing profession.

The prophet Jonah was sent to Nineveh to warn the people to turn from their evil ways. Fortunately, they listened to him: “When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.” (Jonah 3:10)

There is an expression in Swahili the language spoken in Tanzania: “Ngoja nije.” It means “Wait I’m coming.” It always seemed a bit strange to me because the person saying it was there with me! But it meant I have to go take care of something then I will return. So, if Jesus was to appear before us today perhaps we would say: “Ngoja nije.”

But you know we do not have to await the second coming because we know that Jesus is already among us. We know that the Spirit of Jesus lives within us. We receive the body and blood of Jesus every time we go to Mass. During that homily in Dar es Salaam, I asked the students and faculty to look to each side in the pews and tell the person next to him/her “I believe that God dwells within you!” They all did this and found themselves smiling at each other.

If we truly believe this basic Catholic doctrine that Jesus through the Holy Spirit dwells within us then we need to be attentive to our daily activities. We need to demonstrate to others that truly God is here and dwells within us. So, yes, we need to take care of business in our lives and live each day as Jesus would have us live.

In our Gospel reading today from Mark, Jesus calls his first disciples: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men. Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.” And for the next three years, they walked with Jesus echoing our responsorial response in today’s Mass: “Teach me your ways, O Lord.” The disciples weren’t perfect, they were just normal people. At times they were weak and made mistakes. We know that Peter even denied knowing Jesus at one point because he was afraid of what the scribes and Pharisees would do to him. At times they, like us, had to say “Ngoja nije.” But, they never lost heart. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, his spirit, the Holy Spirit, descended upon them and they spent the rest of their lives proclaiming God’s message of love, compassion, and mercy for all.

So, take the time to look into your life, you who are a follower of Jesus. Look at our world today and discover how you should be living in it knowing that God resides within you. How will you respond to the challenges life presents in your home, your community, at work, in our nation and the world? As you awake each morning look in the mirror and tell yourself “I believe that God dwells within me!” And if you truly believe this then smile as did those students and faculty that day in Dar es Salaam for it will be for you as it was for the people of Nineveh: “When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.”

"This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." (MK 1:15)

Photo: Maryknoll Father Mike Snyder (left) with medical students in Tanzania preparing to practice medicine in a country with only one doctor for every 30,000 people. "Faith motivates their work," Fr. Snyder said. "Nothing defeats them." Learn more in the video "Transformed in Tanzania."

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