Cycle B 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

 Jon. 3:1-5, 10; 1 Cor. 7:29-31; Mk. 1:14-20

During today's First Reading from the Book of Jonah, [Jon. 31-5, 10] we heard how Jonah answered God's calling. Jonah was called by God and told to get up and to go to Nineveh, that great city, where he was to proclaim the message of the Lord.

In obedience to the Lord God, Jonah set out and went to Nineveh. He proclaimed the Divine Word of God, advising the sinful people that unless they repent of their sins, in forty days, their city would be overthrown. Fearing the wrath of God, the people realized that they had sinned against Him. Immediately, they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, from the greatest to the least important, put on sackcloth. People turned away from their evil ways. Consequently, God changed His mind about the calamity that He was about to send to Nineveh. This is a great example of the whole city accepting the call of God.

During today's Reading of the Gospel of Mark, [Mk. 1:14-20] we heard Jesus calling the Apostles to be, Simon, Andrew, James, the son of Zebedee and his brother John. All of them left what they were doing to answer the calling of Jesus to a life of self-denial and ongoing sacrifices. By answering their calling, they became faithful servants of the Lord, their names going down in history.

Isaiah 6:8 speaks of the surrender of Isiash to accept the call of God. "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'" - 

Through the history the call of God was extended to many people. Those who accepted the call were used as instruments to establish many remarkable things.

Slave trade stands as a dark chapter in human history, marked by unspeakable cruelty and profound moral degradation. This abhorrent practice, spanning several centuries, involved the abduction, transportation, and enslavement of millions of African men, women, and children. Families were torn apart, and individuals were subjected to unimaginable brutality. 

In the 18th century, a towering figure emerged in the form of William Wilberforce, who, prompted by a profound moral calling, dedicated his life to a relentless pursuit of justice. Faced with the stark realities of the transatlantic slave trade, Wilberforce, a British politician and fervent Christian, felt compelled to answer a divine call to dismantle this reprehensible institution. His advocacy extended beyond mere political maneuvering; it became a moral crusade against the inhumanity inflicted upon those ensnared in the clutches of slavery. With unwavering determination, Wilberforce tirelessly championed the cause in the British Parliament, lobbying for the abolition of the slave trade. His efforts culminated in the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807, marking a pivotal moment in history and contributing significantly to the eventual abolition of slavery in the British Empire.

Baba Amte was another great person who responded to his calling. Baba Amte was a social worker and activist who dedicated his life to the service of humanity, particularly in rural areas. Baba Amte was deeply moved by the plight of people affected by leprosy, a disease that carried significant social stigma. Answering what he considered a divine call to serve the marginalized, he founded Anandwan (Forest of Joy) in 1951, a self-sustaining village community in Maharashtra. Anandwan provided a home, education, and vocational training to those affected by leprosy, empowering them to lead fulfilling lives.

Each one of us is called with a unique mission, a purpose that echoes through the depths of our being. But our response to the call makes the difference.  When Simon, Andrew, James, the son of Zebedee and his brother John, answered the call of Jesus their names went down in history.  There were hundreds of fishermen in their time. But the response of these few people made the difference in their life. 

Everyone is called in a particular way with a specific mission. Like Isiah we should be able to respond, 'Here am I. Send me!'.

In a world marked by conflicts each of us, in our unique capacities, has the potential to make a meaningful impact.