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 of the Gospel which, in general, carries an overall sense of URGENCY, and portrays Jesus as a ‘busy’ person, always on the move, so Jonah is also busy executing God’s call and instruction. The prophet’s message is URGENT: “only forty days more.”

Have we, contemporary disciples of the Lord, lost the sense of urgency?

Urgency: not panic, bedlam, catastrophe or chaos; but urgency in the sense of vital importance regarding something which MUST be made known?

Then, when the urgency is recognised, we get on with the job! Jonah “went to Nineveh in obedience to the word of the Lord.”

{I cannot help but wonder if the contemporary, official and general assembly (remember this word from last week?) of the Church no longer sees anything as URGENT? Half the world does not believe in Jesus Christ but months of time and energy, together with huge amounts of money, are spent in ensuring a literal translation of the Liturgy from Latin to English!! It makes you wonder if the cart is supposed to come before the horse?)

Jonah in obedience went off to Nineveh.

In addition, do not miss a further aspect involved in Jonah’s reference to “only forty days more.” You will recall the general biblical significance of the time period of FORTY! This number indicated an event of real significance. For example, not only did the citizens of Nineveh repent in that period, but the Israelites’ journey and wandering in the desert numbered that many years before ‘discovering’ the Promised Land. Then, Jesus’ experience in the wilderness before commencing his public ministry lasted the same amount of days. Now, as the Lord commences his ministry, after his initial proclamation, the first important activity is to CALL (as Jonah was called to God’s work) his first disciples. These responded, like Jonah, in obedience: “at once they left their nets and followed him ….. they went after him.”

We have read that Nineveh “was a great city … it took three days to cross it.” Jonah made his journey (the people of the city rediscovered God), and those first disciples took the first hesitant steps on their journey – a journey which was to develop into something far greater than Jonah’s. This journey was also to be one of DISCOVERY!

However, in the opening stanza, TODAY’S PSALM [24 or 25] provides a wonderful and descriptive prayer not only of Nineveh’s repentant sinners, but also for those first disciples as they responded to Jesus’ call. {In addition, the same stanza would easily have been an expression not only of the Israelites as they wandered in the desert, but also of Jesus’ reflection as he was in the wilderness during his temptation}.

Lord, make me know your ways.

Lord teach me your paths.

Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:

for you are God my saviour.

The Gospel record that the first disciples “went after him” is rich in meaning. Am I prepared, at the start of another year of discipleship to go after himlearn from his teaching, walk in his truth, discover his ways, and acknowledge him as my saviour?THIS, in a nutshell, should be our response to the very first proclamation, as recorded by Mark in our Gospel extract, of Jesus Christ: “the time has come and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent and believe the Good News.”

We are all in constant need of repentance, conversion, renewal, and reinvigorated faith. THE TIME HAS COME – in the present, at the start of 2012. Now is the time to GO AFTER HIM!

In this SUNDAY’S NEW TESTAMENT EXTRACT [1 CORINTHIANS 7: 29 – 31], Saint Paul adds the sense of urgency we referred to earlier: “our time is growing short.” The Apostle does not intend to press the panic button, but in the face of the day-to-day concerns he lists, he attempts to introduce a sense of focus and an order of priorities.

In EVERYTHING, may we know his ways, walk in his truth, and be open to learn the truth about HIM, and ourselves.