Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 21, 2018)

There is wonder and challenge in today’s Scripture readings.

Imagine for a moment how surprised Jonah must have been when the people of Nineveh responded so quickly to his call to repent. It wasn’t too much earlier that Jonah has feared the assignment and refused to go and suffered his whale experience. Then he had changed his mind and now found that his fears were needless.

Imagine too the amazement of Zebedee and the hired fishermen when his two sons just take off after this itinerant preacher. What was it about Jesus that would make them put aside everything they were used to and follow him?

That’s where the challenge of Jesus’ words comes in: “The reign of God is at hand. Reform your lives and believe in the good news.” There’s something in his words that tells us things will be different when we accept Jesus as God present among his people.

St. Paul gives us an insight into the difference: “The world as we know it is passing away.” The earthly matters that seem so important, that seem to run our lives, have no lasting value. The real value is learning to use these things in a way that reflects how God wants them to be used.

We all might ask: and how do we do that? St. Francis de Sales gives us a way that can help. He tells us: take hold of the present moment as a time graced by God to bring us closer to him. Whatever we are called to do because of the circumstances of our daily life can help us to grow in holiness - union with God. God will give us the grace we need to do each action of our day in a way that is loving - in a way that Jesus would do it.

If we can learn to live in the present moment, accept the grace that God will give us for that moment, and try to love as Jesus would love in whatever we’re doing, then the kingdom of God is there in our midst.

In meeting the challenge of the present moment with the grace of God, we will be filled with wonder - wonder that God loves us so much that He is with us at every moment. He reforms our lives - and the way we live makes the kingdom of God present to all around us. What a challenge - and what an amazing grace!