From the Pastor’s Desk
The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jan 21, 2024
“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Brothers and Sisters,
The iconic street preacher desperately vies for attention from the swarms of passersby. They notice the individual, hear the urgency in his voice, or read about it from a simple sign: “The end is near. Repent!” Still, the message goes unheard.
In the Book of Jonah, we see how Jonah’s preaching about repentance can be compared to that of a street preacher, but with less enthusiasm. When God called Jonah to go to Nineveh, he tried to escape by traveling in the opposite direction by sea. However, the Lord sent a storm to stop him. When Jonah was thrown overboard, God sent a large fish to swallow him and finally delivered him to the shores of his intended destination. Reluctantly, Jonah announced the destruction of Nineveh but without any message of hope and an ask to repent. Surprisingly, everyone, including the king, the lowest servant, and even the animals, repented after hearing Jonah’s imperfect message.
Jesus is undoubtedly greater than Jonah. However, we often fail to realize Jesus’ true nature as an authentic and willing prophet. In his teachings, Jesus communicates two critical messages. Firstly, he reveals God as a loving Father who desires a personal and communal relationship with his people. Secondly, Jesus proclaims the Kingdom of God, which is not a distant or future concept. The Kingdom is already present but not fully realized. It is a gift given through Christ’s sacrifice but requires our cooperation to fulfill it. This tension makes it a challenging yet rewarding journey for believers.
While I hope that on my best day preaching, I resemble our Lord and Savoir more than Jonah, I often desire the success that Jonah had. He did not craft the right words – nor did the imperfections in his own life diminish his effectiveness. I often wish I had the words to help others, turn away from sin, and live in the freedom of God’s children. In particular, I’d love to know the words to convince hearts and minds to work for an authentic pro-life culture.
Yet so much blinds us to see the great tragedy of abortion as the evil and destructive act that it is. The world has other evils, but abortion is one of the few so boldly and openly defended as a desired good. While in the past and occasionally today, abortion is described as a “necessary evil,” most of these false prophets have abandoned this pretext in the desire to make this slaughter of the child commonplace, easily accessible, and, yes, even profitable.
With the fall of Roe v. Wade as a legal precedent in our nation, the battle has been renewed. In our state of Maryland, we’ll be voting on whether we have a right to reproductive freedom, defined as “the ability to make and effectuate decisions to prevent, continue, or end one’s own pregnancy.” This definition is neither freedom nor reproductive. Upon delving into the lives of those seeking abortion, it becomes apparent that this is far from a free choice. Many individuals find themselves trapped by challenging circumstances, compelled to pursue abortion under external pressures. Sadly, those who have received abortions or encouraged others have not found peace or happiness but regret and wounds challenging to heal.
Let’s join together in prayer for those affected by the sin of abortion, seeking the Lord’s abundant mercy and the unhindered flow of healing grace. Gratitude abounds for the numerous individuals committed to being compassionate caretakers, diligently working to unveil the truth of the child in the womb and extending invitations to others on a journey of healing and renewal. Let’s actively engage in this effort, declaring that the Kingdom of God is within reach. The call remains: Repent and believe in the Gospel! In Christ alone, we discover the authentic meaning in our lives and experience true freedom.