Epiphany 3 :: Warning! You will never be the same

2011 Scotland Trip 91

Warning in Lerwick

So what would you do if someone came to you and told you to prepare for God's coming by turning from whatever it was you were doing  and instead work to share that message with others? Or what might you say to someone who came to your neighborhood shouting at the top of her lungs that the city needed to repent or God would destroy it? Or how about being told that in order to fully live into the way God was calling you meant you had to renounce your marriage or your business or even society itself?

Sounds crazy, doesn't it? And yet this is precisely what our readings for this Third Sunday after Epiphany are all about. Jonah warns the people of Ninevah [an ancient city opposite the Tigris River from the modern city of Mosul] that God has pronounced judgement on them and, unless they repent, will be utterly destroyed. Saint Paul calls on the people of Corinth to live as if the only thing that matters is their life in Christ, who is soon to come. The present age is passing away and they all need to be prepared for what will happen next.

And in Mark's Gospel, Jesus calls Peter, Andrew, James, and John from the only life they have ever known. Leave your nets, he tells them, and he'll make them fish for people.

Fish for people? How is that going to support my family? Leave my business? Act as if my husband/wife doesn't exist? Have no dealings with the world? This is escapist thinking. Does the only way to be a good follower of Christ entail my having to escape reality and run away from my obligations? Hardly!

Think of it this way: Being a part of something earth-shaking—and what could be more earth-shaking than God-among-us?—puts everything else we do and all that we have ever known in a completely new light. We can't just sit around as if nothing has happened. The world will never be the same. And neither will we.


Link to RCL Lectionary for Epiphany 3, Year B

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