From Our Pastor: 3rd Sunday In Ordinary Time
The Kingdom of God is at hand! The readings this weekend almost seem like we are already in Lent, but FYl Lent is just around the corner! Start your consideration now of what penance and practices you will do this Lent. Remember it shouldn't just be giving something up. Give something up, as well as do extra prayer, sacrifice, almsgiving, and service.
Back to this weekend.
We hear about Jonah and Nineveh. Jonah went to warn them of their destruction for their egregious sins. Jonah hated the Ninevites so much that he fled the Lord's command. Now he is taking three days to go through the city with his warning. The people of Nineveh believed the warning, repented, sat in sack cloth (scratchy potato sack like material) and ash. Everyone talks about how the merciful and loving God didn't exist in the Old Testament, which is completely false. Here is a prime example as the Lord turned them away from the destruction that was promised because of their conversion. This is mercy.
It is never too late nor impossible to heed the warning and turn back to God. Return to the Lord and you shall be saved, not just from destruction, as in the Ninevites, but saved eternally in paradise. Jesus announces the kingdom of heaven today, but for our salvation, much like the Ninevites, we must repent and believe. Notice in both the story of Jonah and the gospel, belief AND repentance are necessary. Jesus doesn't just want your yes, He wants your heart and whole self. So many Christians miss that its both. We must not only believe, but we must call that belief into action.
This brings us to the end of the Gospel passage from Mark today. The call of Simon, Andrew, James, and John. Jesus calls and they not only believe but respond. We must encounter Christ, hear his call, and respond. Leaving everything we were behind, so that we may be the new creation we are called to be in this encounter. Once we encounter Christ, we can never go back to our old ways, our old self, and our old work. Instead, once we have repented and believed we are never the same again, but in the best of ways! Don't be afraid to repent and believe. Don't be afraid to give your heart to the Lord. Don't be afraid to be different and new. Don't be afraid or let your hatred of some other people get in the way, to announce a turning back to the Lord like Jonah. Don't be afraid to be fishers of men, bringing them to Christ! Be those witnesses.
On behalf of Fr. Rafal and myself, I want to thank everyone for their Christmas cards, gifts, and generosity this Christmas. It means so very much to us, and I truly was grateful for the encouragement and kind words many of you wrote. It means a lot. Thank you.
Remember during the winter months, do not use the middle steps and middle door on the west side of the building.
It's the giant door. We have great trouble keeping the massive steps in the front clean because of blowing and drifting and ice. We focus on the two smaller doors on the sides. Also, the big door opens with the wind and causes our heating costs to skyrocket. It will be locked in the winter months from now on for safety.
Lastly welcome to many new parishioners and families. Help people feel welcome at mass. Greet someone if they look new! Keep up your amazing hospitality and welcome! We have so much to be grateful for at St. Francis, and so much to share with everyone we encounter to tell them of the amazing things happening here! Well done to you all!
- Rev. Steven Arisman