Lectionary Reflection for January 25, 2008
- Jonah 3:1-5, 10
- 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
- Mark 1:14-20
Thoughts for Your Consideration:
For many of us change is a very challenging concept. Change is usually unexpected, sometimes change can be positive, other times it is negative, but almost all the time it throws us off. It is a basic aspect of human nature to desire and work for a stable environment that gives us some sense of control in our lives. We seek this with our family and occupation. We seek this with our local community, our nation and our world. We even seek this with our own faith and cosmology. Many times we would rather have a prescribed formula for what we need to do to get into heaven. Unfortunately as scripture tells us, heaven does not work that way. If we really want to aspire to follow Jesus and do what is right, then we are in for one roller-coaster of a ride.
Jonah is a prophet who does not like change (which is an unusual trait for a prophet.) He is upset that he has to minister to a group of people that he does not seem to care for. After he finally accomplishes his responsibility he is angry at God for displaying mercy to the Assyrians who, as far as Jonah is concerned, have been rightfully condemned and ought to be punished. To Jonah’s unpleasant surprise even God can change his mind.
Unlike Jonah Paul is far more receptive to change. Paul’s gospel conviction is that change is not only part of life, but that for those of us who chose to follow Christ, change is definite and it will be massive, “for the world in its present form is passing away.” The new Christian community in Corinth is accepting this gospel message that Paul has shared but they seem to be content with adopting it to their current way of life. Early on in this epistle Paul is trying to have them realize the challenging responsibility and life altering condition that the gospel message is by divorcing it from the “wisdom of this world” and centering this divine message of God’s love on one of the most scandalous social images imaginable, the Cross. This change will in the end be glorious, but for now it is going to fraught with pain and suffering. The Gospel message shares with us this same message by describing the circumstances of the early disciples of Jesus. To follow Jesus meant to leave everything they once new behind for the promise of being “fishers of men.” However this call to follow the anointed one of God and share in his divine ministry would also have to share in the pain and suffering of his Passion.
This past Tuesday our nation began to embark on a similar journey of change. During the campaign the Obama administration promised change. This change was focused on a message of hope for a better future in the midst of crisis. But on Tuesday when President Obama gave his inauguration address our new President shared with us the difficult path that lies ahead of us as we aspire to this goal. He offered us courage by reminding us how our current blessing came to us from the struggles and sacrifices of the men and women who came before us. Now we are called again to take up a new cross of social responsibility; responsibility to ourselves, our nation and our world. Because as President Obama put it so eloquently: “This is the price and the promise of citizenship. This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.”
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group:
- What social and political problems of today seem to you to be impossible to address or solve? How does your faith give you courage to deal with these problems?
- How the inauguration of a new president and vice-president in the United States affect you and your sense of hope? How does it affect your desire to create a world centered on the common good of all?