Last week we reflected on the fact that there was a need to do the ordinary living of a Christian disciple as well as possible and ‘rescue’ the Gospel from becoming humdrum!

This week we see that the time for us to begin doing it is right now – in the present.

TODAY’S GOSPEL [MARK 1: 14 – 20] has Jesus himself proclaiming the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel. It is all at hand!

Saint Paul, in the

NEW TESTAMENT READING [1 CORINTHIANS 7: 29 – 31], speaks of the appointed time has grown very short. In other words, no good waiting for another appointed time for the form of this world is passing away.

If it is not passing away then we have not been doing enough of the ordinary things extraordinarily well

. Too much humdrum!?

So, we turn our attention to

JONAH [3: 1 – 5. 10] in our OLD TESTAMENT READING. The opening words of the reading are valuable: the word of the Lord came to Jonah.

You will, from last week, recall that the word of the Lord came to Samuel but it took him by surprise and, initially, he did not realise that it was not Eli calling him but God. You will probably remember that, at the start Jonah was not especially interested in responding to the call and, in fact, attempted to run away. However, he could not escape …. neither can we! Jonah went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. The Old Testament extract tells us, very dramatically, that Jonah’s efforts produced extraordinary results.

{and do not forget that Samuel became a great prophet.} There was nothing humdrum about Jonah’s preaching. There is no doubt in my mind that he even surprised himself.

It is possible for us to surprise ourselves. The opening stanza of

OUR PSALM [5] actually provides us with a wonderful description of both Jonah and Samuel’s change of heart – Lord, make me know your ways. Teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth, and teach me; for you are the God of my salvation. Very often the Lord has to save us from ourselves! When we realise this fact it becomes possible for us to surprise ourselves. Both Samuel and Jonah were saved from themselves, and once that much had been accepted they went on to do great things ….

nothing humdrum. They did the ordinary things the Lord asked of them, and that is why they both ended up being extraordinary.

Yes! They did ordinary things. There is nothing extraordinary in actually doing what God-in-Christ calls us to do. We do not do the extraordinary. Rather we do the ordinary – and the Lord converts them into the extraordinary.

This, partly, is what Saint Paul is getting at in our New Testament extract. He is not suggesting that married couples should suddenly become celibate, the mourning should, overnight, start pretending they are ‘on top of the world’, or the joyful should ‘put on long faces’. He is actually emphasising what we referred to last week …. the

HOW against the WHAT! HOW are we being married, mourning or rejoicing? Am I being a pain or am I ‘doing it’ in a truly Christian manner?

In today’s Gospel we hear of Jesus’ call to the first disciples. Do not look at the ‘what’. Look at the ‘how’. They left everything. Unlike Samuel and Jonah they responded at once – with enthusiasm – even though they were unsure of what actually lay in the future! They did not hedge their bets.


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