The word of the Lord came to Jonah, saying: "Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you." So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh, according to the Lord's bidding. Now Nineveh was an enormously large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day's walk announcing, "Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed." When the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.
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.(P) The word of the Lord.
Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me in your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior. (R)
Remember that your compassion, O Lord, and your love are from of old. In your kindness remember me, because of your goodness, O Lord. (R)
Good and upright is the Lord; thus He shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice and teaches the lowly His way. (R)
I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away.(P) The word of the Lord.
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."
As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
Today's second reading is from the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. Paul established the Christian community in Corinth approximately twenty years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Ancient Corinth was an important Greek city during the Roman Empire. It was a major center of trade and commerce. The Corinthian church was largely made up of Gentiles or non-Jewish converts and, it was plagued with numerous problems such as immoral behavior, disordered public worship, internal divisions based on social and ethnic distinctions, false teaching, and so on. They were committing all kinds of sin without conscience. Over all they were quite complacent, uninterested and non-committal in their Christian faith. Paul heard of the problems that had developed in the community and, was concerned about its spiritual health. He seems to have written four letters to the Corinthians. However, two of them have been lost, so only two are found in the New Testament. He wrote the first letter when he was at Ephesus in response to the reports that the Corinthian church had sent to him. From today's text we learn that Paul reminded the Christians what their focus should be during their time on earth.
With great concern and deep affection, he wrote, "Time is running out. From now on, let those who having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away."
It is necessary that we should not misunderstand the words of Paul. For example if we take Paul literally, "let those who having wives act as not having them", I am afraid this is what will happen. A man says to his friend, "I kiss my wife every day before I leave for work, what about you? His friend says, "I too kiss her everyday but after you leave."
First of all, Paul did not deny the importance or the validity of two people's commitment to each other. In fact several times in his letters he praises marriage. For example, in his letter to the Ephesians (5:22-25), he exhorted the wives to submit themselves unto their husbands, as unto the Lord and the husbands to love their wives, just as Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for her. In his letter to the Colossians (3:20), he called on the children to always obey their parents, for this would please the Lord. By this Paul did not require the wives, husbands and children to live as slaves to one another but rather encouraged mutual submission out of reverence for Christ, (Ephesians 5:21). He wanted the husbands, wives and children to be loving, forgiving, faithful, patient and respectful to one another for the sake of the love of Christ. For Paul, therefore, good Christians should be good husbands, good wives, good children and good parents. However, Paul believed that love for God and his teachings must take precedence over love for family. So when he said "let those having wives act as not having them or those having husbands act as not having them" he was only saying that Christians can love their spouses, children, families and friends but they must love, worship and serve God first. True love for God enables the believers to overlook one another's faults and weaknesses and, still love one another unconditionally.
Second, Paul did not negate any normal human emotions or possessions. In his letter to the Romans (12:15) Paul encouraged the Christians to "rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep." Writing to the Colossians (3:12) he said that as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, they must clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. He exhorted the Philippians (4:4) to "rejoice in the Lord always." So Paul did not mean to obliterate any human emotions for humans come with emotions and feelings. It is natural for every human being to weep, cry, shout, laugh, rejoice and celebrate. Therefore according to Paul, Christians can be also sad when someone suffers and they can mourn when someone dies, however, they should neither get caught up in their own sorrows nor in their distress or joys. In the same way, Christians may use the things of the world but should not be engrossed in them or obsessed with them. So when he said, "let those weeping act as not weeping, those rejoicing act as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully", he meant that Christians should put their concerns for the things of Christ above their cares for the things of the world. They should use their joys and sorrows, successes and failures, riches and wealth to do good works and bring glory to God.
The message is simple and direct. Paul is not discouraging our commitment to our marriage or family life nor is he stopping us from grief and celebration in this life, nor saying we should not buy or own things but rather is reminding us that the things of this world both good and bad; the people around us both loving and unkind; possessions both ordinary and extraordinary; the experiences both happy and sad are transitory. Nothing will be with us forever. Therefore Paul wants us not to allow anything or anyone get in the way of serving and loving our God faithfully as long as we live.(P) Amen.
God Bless You!