Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 JON 3:1-5, 10
- Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Reading 11 1 COR 7:29-31
Alleluia MK 1:15
- Alleluia, alleluia.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent and believe in the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel MK 1:14-20
20/21 January 2018 Finding Humility
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Last year I heard a priest give a talk on humility. He told us about his father, Mr. Johnson who had recently died. The priest came from a large Catholic family and said his father was very successful. Mr. Johnson was a natural leader and chaired several committees in his parish. His father was generous with his time and talents but preferred to be the person in charge and in control of the activities around him.
As Mr. Johnson grew older and slowed down, he struggled to give up his involvement and lack of control. When he had a stroke in his 80’s, his condition required constant care in a nursing home. Since moving to the nursing home was something he couldn’t control, Mr. Johnson became stubborn and resentful. The priest said he continued to visit his father during this time and was always surprised that he was too proud to ask anyone for help.
During one visit, the priest realized his father was really declining. He was even more surprised when his father actually asked him for help eating supper. He was happy to help but still amazed that his father was swallowing his pride with every bite.
When Mr. Johnson died, the priest finally understood that God had taken his father on a journey to help him find humility. When his father was young and strong, his need to be in control of everything prevented him from finding true humility. It took a stroke and 10 years in a nursing home to help him realize that God was in charge and he didn’t have to do everything by himself. God had been waiting patiently for Mr. Johnson to find humility before he could bring him home to heaven.
Our readings today remind us there are many ways to find humility in this life. In our first reading from Jonah the story is much different than the life of Mr. Johnson. Jonah is sent to the great city of Nineveh to announce God’s decision to destroy the city in 40 days because of their wickedness. When the king of Nineveh hears the news he is quickly convinced and leads by example. He shows his humility by replacing his royal robe with sackcloth and sits in ashes. His example and decree to the people to fast and pray and to turn from their evil ways is successful. God relented from his plans and spared the city.
In the Gospel from Mark today we also hear about the need for humility and a how God helps us succeed. In the Gospel Jesus tells us: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."
With this simple message, God was re-establishing His authority in the world. God fulfilled His promises in the Old Testament by sending His Son to be our Savior.
Our challenge in this life is finding the humility to acknowledge our need for God and for His will to be done instead of our own.
God knew this would difficult for us but as a loving Father He provides what we need to succeed. When Jesus returned to heaven He sent the Holy Spirit into the world to help us.
This same Spirit guides our Catholic Church that Jesus started when he called the Apostles in the Gospel to be “fishers of men”. Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John were the predecessors of today’s Pope and bishops. The evangelizing work of the Church that Jesus started, continues today and we all have a part to do in that humble effort.
I will leave you with a reflection from a Gospel commentaries:
When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray He gave us The Lord’s prayer. The Lord’s prayer gives us one of the best ways to find humility and the Kingdom of God in our lives. In the Lord’s prayer we ask that “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
The Kingdom of God exists wherever God’s will is done. It certainly exists in heaven but also on earth in every heart that accepts God’s will with true humility.
As we reflect on the stubborn pride of Mr. Johnson and conversion of Nineveh may we all think of areas in our lives where we are still searching for humility. In a few minutes when we pray the Lord’s prayer together let us welcome the Kingdom of God in our lives and always be open to His will.