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Sunday, January 22, 2006

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3rd Sunday Ordinary Time

Jonah 3:1-5, 10
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Psalm 25
Mark 1:14-20

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have a heart

"When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, He repented of the evil that He had threatened to do to them; He did not carry it out." —Jonah 3:10

The bloody, brutal Ninevites repented but Jonah, who preached the message of repentance to them, did not. Jonah initially fled from God's call, refusing to forgive and preach to his enemies, the Ninevites. After Jonah spent three days in a whale and was spit out on the shore, he changed his mind but not his heart. He did preach the message of repentance to the Ninevites, but his heart wasn't in it. In his heart, Jonah didn't want the Ninevites to repent. He wanted them punished (Jon 4:1ff). The only reason Jonah did what God wanted was to avoid doing any more time in a whale's belly.

Many Christians are like Jonah. Eventually, they do the right thing and are even used by the Lord to lead people to Him. However, their hearts aren't in it. They serve the Lord begrudgingly. Mass is their Sunday obligation, not their Sunday privilege. They think they are doing God a favor when they pray. They really don't care that much if unbelievers are saved but don't want to go to hell themselves.

Why did everyone listen to Jonah's message of repentance except Jonah? Why are many Christians like Jonah? Jonah's problem and sin was unforgiveness. He refused to forgive the hateful Ninevites. Many Christians have more in common with Jonah than with Jesus. We must forgive our enemies and those who have hurt us. Then we will have a heart for evangelization.

Prayer:  Father, may I accept Your divine power to forgive from my heart everyone who has ever hurt me.

Promise:  "This is the time of fulfillment. The reign of God is at hand! Reform your lives and believe in the gospel!" —Mk 1:15

Praise:  Praise the risen Jesus, Who taught us from the cross of love how to forgive.

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 19, 2005

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