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Bishop Robert Barron2018
When Christianity is reduced to deism or moralism, we turn the Gospel into a faint echo of the surrounding culture. But today's readings propose something much more substantive than spiritual bromides or ethical directives. They suggest a new world breaking into the old.
A divine calling, whether the meaning is revealed in this life or the next, always requires our biblical heroes to do more than they feel they are capable. But all of us must answer, regardless of the call. Jonah provides a very "human" example of how difficult the work may be, and how the result might not be what we anticipate, but that it is always worthwhile and reflects God's will that we enact the purpose that brings our life to its proper fulfillment.
We hear in today's Gospel Jesus' inaugural address. He tells us that the time of fulfillment is now. This means that the whole of Israelite history is summed up in his person. He is the new Temple, the true prophet, the everlasting covenant, and the definitive Torah. And this means that all people must make a decision about him.
The familiar theme of detachment runs right through all three of our readings for this week. Paul tells the Corinthians who are married to carry on as though they were not married and those who buy and sell as though they were not buying and selling. The point is that one should orient one's life totally to the absolute good who is God. When that orientation takes place, everything else--from spouses to material goods--can be let go of, can be seen in proper spiritual perspective. This detachment is, I argue, the conversion that Jesus speaks of in his inaugural address, which is our Gospel for today.
Jonah hears God's invitation and refuses to cooperate. But God's providence is universal and his demand is absolute. When he has gone through the discipline of the belly of the fish, Jonah is ready. At his word, the entire city of Nineveh repents. When we hear our call to Nineveh, let us not resist!