Yes! There IS a link between this Sunday’s OLD TESTAMENT READING [JONAH 3: 1 - 5. 10] and the GOSPEL EXTRACT [MARK 1: 14 - 20]. As with Mark’s version...
There are specific ideals, advantages and strengths given to us as a direct consequence of the manner in which we celebrate our Sundays.
First of all we have reminded ourselves that
“before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you …. .” [see OUR OLD TESTAMENT READING : JEREMIAH 1: 4 – 5. 17 – 19] It is good for us to start our working week within the framework that we are not in control of the universe. I have appointed you to take mature responsibility for the world in which you live and work – “so gird up your loins, arise … do not be dismayed … I am with you.”
We take up the week’s tasks with the courage and confidence given by
TODAY’S PSALM [71 or 70] which proclaims: “on you have I leaned from my birth … you have been my help.” However, we proceed without forgetting what Saint Paul says in TODAY’S NEW TESTAMENT READING [1 CORINTHIANS 12: 31 – 13:3]: “when I was a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”
In other words we face the week’s challenges as mature, thinking, adult Christians conscious of the fact that we are operating in God’s world and as his stewards. We do not have all the answers and are not infallible. As Paul tells us
today we now “see in a mirror dimly … know only in part.” We have to think and discern. We have to be patient … not arrogant or rude … irritable or resentful. There will be certain difficulties we have to bear and endure.
Now we go back to Saint Paul’s teaching from last week
(1 Corinthians 12: 12 – 30) which leads into today’s New Testament extract. There we heard that “the body does not consist of one member but of many … if the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing … where the sense of smell?” Each one of us is a part of the whole emphasised last week. “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” Everyone has something to contribute. No matter what our work may entail we are dependant in some real and practical way on others. “God arranged the body …. each one of them, as he chose. … if one member suffers, all suffer together, if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.” The real crunch is stated by the apostle with the words – “if all were a single organ, where would the body be?” Every single thing I do and achieve is the result of some form of community effort. My computer has to be in working order and its printer must be able to print. The telephone I use must be ‘on line’, my physical well-being depends on the food that is prepared and cooked, the gym I may attend. Paul emphasised last week that the Spirit of God has been given to everyone in the different, but in a mutually inclusive manner, with individual gifts spread throughout. I do not have a monopoly on the gifts and talents needed to achieve in the work I do.
It is this ‘body’ of different ‘organs’ which
assembled together for the celebration of the Lord’s Day – and I participated and contributed to the gathering. It is simply impossible (and most unwise) to forget this in my working week. This is facilitated by remembering Paul’s teaching in this Sunday’s extract. We have to “earnestly desire the higher gifts” which take us out of any semblance of selfish egotism. The apostle also emphasises that love is “a still more excellent way.” Love, not in the manner which so often impoverishes the meaning of the word but in the sense of a genuine concern and awareness of other people’s feelings, their need to be personally considered, affirmed, incorporated into the whole of my work, and thanked for their contribution. People need to be recognised for their worth and value.
Now read as one last Sunday’s Gospel together with THIS SUNDAY’S [LUKE 1: 1 – 4. 4: 14 – 30]. Today, any day, is the time we are given. The teaching of Jesus might well sound good and attractive but it has to be applied by me to my own life. This will, at times, make me feel very uncomfortable and irritated but it is little good to be“filled with wrath … and put him out (of our way).” He and his teaching will not go away but return over and over to nag and challenge us.
To be a WHOLE person and community HE and his teaching must be taken seriously – TODAY and EVERY DAY.