Homily for Sunday, January 24th, 2021
Something Fishy is Still Going on In the World.
Most of us are familiar with the biblical tale of Jonah, especially the part where he disobeys God, thinking he could run away and cross the ocean and avoid doing what he was told. So, he gets on a ship and ends up getting swallowed whole by a giant fish that our childhood storybooks called a Whale. The disobedient prophet was then, after three days in the belly of the beast spewed out onto the shore, right close to where he started.
Many children hearing the tale simply focus on the larger than life fish story, not really looking at the bigger picture. You see, God, since the beginning of time has a plan to reconcile this fallen world to himself, and simply running away, or ignoring that fact won’t change the outcome.
The people of Nineveh were an evil, warring nation and were hated by their neighboring nations. Jonah, as pretty much the rest of the ancient world would have liked to have seen that evil nation destroyed. Rather than seeing them warned and possibly spared from God’s coming wrath, the prophet himself disobeyed God.
My sisters and brothers, as the Apostle Paul tells us in our second reading, God has a certain timeline in place, and we’ve all been warned of our need to repent, just like the people of Ninevah.
Will you, today, hear God's voice and repent, or will you harden your heart?
No one knows the date or the timing of when God’s timeline will come to fruition, but, just like the prophet Jonah, we cannot hide from the inevitable. This world will indeed pass away, but, just like the people of old, God has given us a warning, that we may be able to escape the final destruction.
Today’s readings are quite straight forward; the end is coming; get ready.
I look at the modern United States and I weep. I see that we’ve been on an evil trajectory for my entire life. The changes have been so slow that they may be imperceptible. Certainly, today’s youth do not even understand the magnitude of how far we’ve fallen into moral depravity. I look back, comparing the America of sixty-years ago, to today, and I cannot help but connect the dots to biblical warnings of the end times. Are we becoming as depraved as in the times of Noah, Sodom, and Gomorrah, or even Nineveh? Scripture is pretty clear — God HATES sin, and he only tolerates just so much.
In that light, I find it interesting how those in political power and even modern religious authority insist upon the importance of tolerance and acceptance, yet they, quite often are the least tolerant and accepting of folks who disagree with their agendas. We are living with stark reminders of this, with how the current political arena is so polarized, especially with calls from the left for those who disagree with them to be "punished" and, or "reprogrammed."
God’s moral ideals are not for a season or a generation. They are not dependent upon whether we like or appreciate them. Something doesn’t cease to be evil or sinful simply because we don’t accept a certain moral precept. The same things that were evil in the days of the prophet Jonah, remain evil in the sight of the Lord today.
Modern biblical scholars are keen on reducing the writings that the Church has deemed Holy for two-thousand years, to being merely writings of men. In that understanding, they can justify their doctrinal and moral changes, because they’ve removed God from the equation. In their understanding, those men who wrote the Bible simply didn’t understand today’s culture or a certain lifestyle. In their pride, lusts, and searching for power, they've remade church into something that glorifies human desires and pleasures, removing every vestige of divine prerogative.
My friends, if you remove God’s authority from scripture, you become something other than a child of God. Those who do so, have become children of darkness, remaking God in their own image. Modern Churches teaching new-age morality are the modern-day Nineveh, far from being in the will of God — but there is still time for them to repent and turn from their wicked ways.
A few days ago I wrote a Gospel reflection talking about being “called” and “sent.” In today’s Gospel, we return to the shores of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus is calling a few fishermen to follow Him. Jesus tells them that He’ll make them “fishers of men.” My sisters and brothers, we are in need of more folks who hear God’s calling on their lives, to drop what they’re doing and become fishers of men.
I read the signs of the times and see that we may not have much time left. But that’s been the consistent teaching of the Church since its inception. Do we have a day, a week or another decade? I’m no prophet in that sense. What I do know is that the clock is ticking for each of us. At nearly sixty-four years old, and with a few health issues, my days of preaching the Good News are definitely getting fewer. Will my personal judgment be at my death, or will I meet Him in the air at his second coming? Either way, I will work as long as God grants me time, and physical ability to work as a fisher of men.
You’re invited to join me in the trenches. We can always use a few more. It’s not a glamorous gig, and there are costs involved. If you’re looking for fame and fortune, you should look somewhere else. Folks will hate and revile you, especially if you do it right. They hated Jesus. Can we expect anything less?
The Mantra of those opposing Christ’s Church is that what was once good, is now evil, and what had been considered truth is now false. The New World Order is against God’s moral order, seeking to silence the Word of God.
We need men and women who truly love God, and are called according to His purposes to REPENT and pray that God will heal our land — just like the people of Nineveh after hearing the preaching of Jonah. Next, we must shake off our complacency and become prophetic voices in our own day — fishing for souls, speaking the TRUTH of salvation through faith in Jesus.
At times I, myself have been lulled into thinking that I’m tired of the status quo of sin and evil, and wishing that God would simply fulfill HIS plan NOW. Well, it’s a good thing I’m not in control. God didn’t want Nineveh to perish, and neither is he finished with us today. He still needs folks who are willing to stand in the gap, proclaiming His Good News to those who would otherwise perish in their sins.
The dark powers and contrary voices active n our age have, like the Borg, in the fictional Star Wars saga have convinced far too many Christians that “resistance is futile.” How many Christians and once faithful churches have succumbed and simply allowed themselves to be assimilated — believing the lies to be true?
To many are finding the silken lies of the evil one to be quite compelling. They’re believing that it’s just too much work to remain faithful, that speaking out with Christian truths is somehow mean spirited or even somehow wrong. Does that sound good and reasonable to you my friend. Not to my ears. Some of us still need to take a stand against the evil in our day.
Refuse to be assimilated. God relies on us, his children to be salt and light, and to be fishers of men.
Without folks like you and I, who love the Lord, and are willing to speak the truth, there will be no one, or nothing left but a hollow shell and distant memories.
Are you interested in becoming a workman for the kingdom of God? Has your own church slipped into the errors of modernism and you’re looking for an alternative place to worship, or even minister the Word and Sacrament? St. Nicholas OCC is dedicated to facilitating Authentic Catholic ministry in the midst of this time of growing darkness — we are calling fishers of men, not just keepers of the aquarium.
FIRST READING -- Jonah 3:1–5, 10
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.
SECOND READING -- 1 Corinthians 7:29–31
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.
GOSPEL -- Mark 1:14–20
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.
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