As a kid I can remember playing with the other kids in the neighborhood… out on our bikes, throwing a ball around, playing in the brook, etc. From anywhere in the neighborhood, and I mean anywhere, I could hear her voice – MOM … and usually it was just 2 words: Jonathan, DINNER! Sometimes, I will admit, I pretended not to hear so that I could have a few extra minutes out … but the other kids would always say: I think I hear your Mom. It was enough. I would hop on my bike and ride home.
Now, God had given Jonah one task, one job, one mission: Preach to the Ninevites. He was not an eloquent preacher, he spoke only one, unenthusiastic warning, but they heard him and in seemingly one day the people repented. They changed. They turned to God.
In a similar fashion, Jesus “calls” His first disciples with what seems like an unimpressive invitation … “come after Me and I will make you fishers of men.” And they followed him. He is basically asking them to accept a permanent change of lifestyle. Little did they know that, as their friendship with Jesus matured, they would become heroic preachers of His gospel – conforming their own lives to His. They turned to Him and not only were they changed but they changed the world.
Neither of these messages are catchy. There is nothing intriguing about them … so what, then, could have possibly made the people of Nineveh repent … what made those first disciples immediately leave everything and follow after Jesus? Perhaps the intrigue is faith … faith in something far bigger and greater than their current experience of life. Maybe they felt and saw in Jesus the hope of something more … and it changed them … They trusted Jesus though not knowing what lie ahead in their future. The people of Nineveh trusted Jonah though not knowing if God would relent or not.
This is a message for our time … faith and trust. There is so much noise in our world today … We are constantly bombarded with news – the media painting a picture as if doomsday is upon us… It can be so easy to get bogged down, to be consumed by it, fearful of what lies ahead – Is it not time, now more than ever, to have faith that God will guide us through these unsettling times … is it not the time now to put faith ahead of fear?
Today’s readings all remind us that, as Christians, our priority is to put Him first above all else … this does not mean we aren’t to have a concern for our world, but not let it control our lives … To allow His voice to cut through the noise … And furthermore, what about those who have yet to return to Mass, those who used to occupy the seat next to us… the many friends and relatives who have yet to come back to Mass? Could it be that God is asking each of us to be “Jonah” – to speak a message of faith and of trust in God’s providence amid the difficulties and challenges that we are facing. Jonah was not an eloquent preacher. Neither do you and I have to be … Maybe God is asking us to aid Him in piercing through the noise of this world in order reach others and call them back to God.
My mother didn’t have to say much to get me to the dinner table … neither do we because sometimes all it takes is for someone to speak up, a simple word of encouragement, an invitation … we may not know what lies ahead, but by turning to God in this way, by trusting Him, it might change us … it might change others.