Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Engaging Faith | Mon, Jan 19, 2009

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time [b]

 January 25, 2009


Jonah 3:1-5, 10

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Mark 1:14-20


January 18-25: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

January 25 - 31: Catholic Schools Week "Catholic Schools Celebrate Service."


The members of the Church, as members of society, have the same right and duty to promote the common good as do other citizens. Christians ought to fulfill their temporal obligations with fidelity and competence. They should act as a leaven in the world, in their family, professional, social, cultural and political life.

Bishops Synod, Justice in the World, #38

Daily human events clearly evidence how much forgiveness and reconciliation are undeniably needed for bringing about a real personal and social renewal. This is valid in interpersonal relations but also among communities as well as nations. 

John Paul II, Lent 2001

Every time you make a choice, you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.  And, taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a Heaven creature or into a hellish creature -- either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is Heaven: that is, it is joy, and peace, and knowledge, and power.  To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness.  Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.

 C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Thoughts for your consideration

The scriptures today remind us that reform and change are possible. 

God sends Jonah into an immense, secular city to proclaim repentance and renewal.  Jonah goes with great reluctance and expects no success. However, he is surprised by success. The people of Nineveh change their lives.

After John has been arrested and thrown into prison, Jesus appears proclaiming:  "This is the time of fulfillment. The reign of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."  Some people are so inspired by this message that they leave everything, and follow Jesus.

We live in a time when reform and change are needed. 

  • In a very wealthy nation, too many people are living in poverty.
  • We have homeless families and empty homes.
  • More and more people are losing jobs.
  • Over two million people are in prison or jail.
  • In a nation largely built by immigrants, we have millions who live with the fear of deportation.
  • In spite of our commitment to equal opportunity, not all of our children have equal access to a quality education.
  • In spite of spending more per person on health care than almost any nation, not everyone has access of quality care.
  • In spite of our rhetoric about peace, we are involved in two wars and spend huge amounts on the world's largest defense budget.
  • In a nation that prides itself on its values, we have tortured prisoners.
  • Even though we have only 6% of the world's population, we are the world's largest energy consumer and until very recently the largest emitter of carbon dioxide emissions.

We live in a time where proclaiming reform and change can seem to be futile. We can feel discouraged or overwhelmed by the powers that be - by the desire to settle things by war, by political leaders who are not honest, by a political process than is controlled by those with the most money, by political policies that seem biased against the poor, by the values of the consumer culture, by the economic interests that seem to show no respect for the environment, and by many other ideologies and ways of acting. Change seems impossible.  Certain secular values seem to have overwhelming power.  Yet the scriptures invite us to believe that reform is possible, that change and growth can take place and that God is calling us to something better.

The scriptures today remind us that reform and change is possible, not only in our personal life and interpersonal relations, but also in our society and its institutions.

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

What social and political problems of today seem to you to be impossible to address or solve?  How does your faith give you courage to deal with these problems?


How the inauguration of a new president and vice-president in the United States effect you and your sense of hope?  How does it effect your desire to create a world centered on the common good of all?

Actions - Links

  • The theme for Catholic Schools Week 2009 ["Catholic Schools Celebrate Service."] celebrates Catholic schools and community service. "Civic engagement is a hallmark of Catholic education," said Karen Ristau, president of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA). For more info go to:
  • Inauguration: Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago, wrote to President Obama on behalf of the US Catholic Bishops to voice to him Catholic concerns for our nation. You can read the letter by going to

"A Season for Nonviolence is a global grassroots campaign dedicated to raising awareness about the healing and transforming power of nonviolence. This 64-day event began in 1997 for the occasion of the 50th and 30th memorial anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr."

"Crazy Facts"

Foreign Aid 101, An Introduction to Foreign Assistance by Oxfam America writes: "The US spent 0.18 percent of its national income on foreign aid in 2006. That puts the US in 21st place among OECD members and behind most industrialized nations. In the same year, Canada spent 0.29 percent (almost double the US percentage), while Britain contributed 0.51 percent (almost triple the US percentage)."

Prayers of Intercession

Response: God hears the cry of the poor.

For all those who go hungry today, we pray.....

For those who have no home in which to sleep this night, we pray....

For men and women who cannot find work that pays a living wage, we pray....

For children who are denied a quality education, we pray...

For women who do not have equal rights with men, we pray....

For all people who are denied political freedoms, we pray....

For all those who live in fear of torture, political oppression, and even death, we pray....

Prayer - Meditation

Immaculate Heart of Mary, help us to conquer the menace of evil,
which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today,
and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths toward the future.
From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning, deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us. From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.
Accept, O Mother of Christ, this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin: individual sin and the "sin of the world," sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the redemption: the power of merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope.

~ Pope John Paul II

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