Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jon 3:1-5 & 10; 1 Cor 7:29-31; Mk 1:14-20 (Year B)

The story of Jonah and the whale is colourful and lingers long in the memory. Even if many would feel that it has little practical application today, we would be wrong to dismiss it. The point it wishes to make applies as much today, perhaps more so, than at the time it was written.

Religious minorities tend to retreat into themselves when faced with a hostile world. Such minorities inevitably restrict God’s promised salvation to themselves alone, thereby denying to others the opportunity to respond to God’s universal love.

The story of Jonah turns this presumption on its head. Jonah, a faithful Jew, was reluctant to proclaim repentance and salvation to the pagan people of Nineveh. Hence the escapade with the whale that deposited a reluctant Jonah on foreign shores.

We who find enduring repentance so difficult can learn much from the response of Nineveh: “And the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least.”

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