A Net Full Of Habits
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Scriptural Readings: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalms 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20
My dear encountered couples:
There is the opinion that these four future apostles who left their fishing occupations had seen and talked with Jesus before he gave them this invitation to become his companions. It most likely was not a sudden whim and an act of sheer irresponsibility that prompted them to up and leave their fathers and their fishing businesses. Peter, Andrew, James and John had probably given it some previous thought, and when Jesus beckoned them to come with him they were ready to go. They were going to be taught how to become fishers of men, how to lead others to heaven.
Every Christian by virtue of being a Christian has the vocation of drawing others to Christ. Most are not asked to leave their jobs nor their families. By their Christian living and by their words they are to attract others to Christ right where they live and work. I am speaking of you. Jesus Christ wants to reach out from within you and touch others with his love. He wants to invite them to come and follow him. For this to effectively be possible it is necessary that you do your best to live as Jesus has taught. You are not to occasionally put on your Christianity and live according to the principles of Christ, but every moment they must be second nature to you. They are to become such a part of you that your thoughts and actions always stem from them. Everything you think, and do, and say is to flow from the very thoughts, actions, and words of God. That is what it means to really and fully be Christian, to really and fully be Catholic.
One of the very basic requirements for a good Christian is the virtue of Honesty. This means honesty in speech — no lying to anyone, honesty in business — no cheating your customers nor your employees, honesty to yourself — no blinding yourself as to what you are really like deep inside. Judas was one apostle who did not live up to this virtue of honesty. He was a thief, a sneak, and a liar. He’s a good example of what a person cannot be if he wishes to be a Christian and follower of Christ.
Patience is also required. We are so used to the many instant foods that we eat and drink, to the instant performance of our TV sets and stereos, that we expect people to instantly do as we tell them. People take time to change. And I don’t mean just a few days or weeks. It may take years.
Just look at yourself. How long does it take for you to grow and broaden in your thinking? How long does it take for you to change in your ways of living? It doesn’t happen overnight, does it?
Then you must also learn to relax and give the time and space to other people as they need it. God has been waiting millions of years for the human race to get with it. His patience can appear unreasonable, especially to this instant world of the twentieth century.
Often that which comes fast goes fast. The get-rich-quick ideas are often more like go—broke—quick. Talk to some who have tried it in the stock market. It is often the same with the instant converted Christian. They unconverted just about as quickly. It first takes being attracted to Christianity, then lots of thought, lots of practice, and lots of moral support from friends before it can become well established in anyone.
Even those baptized at birth must go through that procedure when they get older and more mature. I don’t believe the apostles were instant converts. I believe they thought it over for some time. Waiting for them to make up their minds took patience on the part of Jesus, especially when he probably knew his time was short.
Maybe the thought comes into your mind about that time Jesus seems to have lost his patience — the time he ranted and raved in the temple at the sellers and money changers. Maybe we can explain it as an act of lust anger on his part. But it might also have been an example to us that all that kind of ranting and raving accomplishes nothing. As far as we know, the people cleaned up the mess Jesus made and were back at selling and the exchanging of money before the day was out. Perhaps a harsh approach does sometimes get a point across. But it must be planned and executed well. It is useless as the result of an on— the—spot loss of patience, as an instantaneous, angry release of frustration. These most likely have no long—term good effects.
Becoming honest and patient are necessary qualities for a good Christian. But there are many more things required. All of them are ways of loving. To take them into our lives and make them second nature in our characters will mean leaving many things behind. The apostles left their families and their businesses. You are called on to leave some of your habits — your habits of thinking, your habits of living, and maybe some habits of shooting off your mouth without thinking. The way you judge others, the way you treat others, even the way you think of and treat yourself may have to be left behind and your life undergo many changes.
This will take time. Even the apostles after they left family and business had a lot more of leaving behind and changing of themselves to go through. They were far from being perfect followers of Christ, from becoming complete saints. But it didn’t happen to them without a lot of effort on their part. And you won’t reach your peak without a lot of work put in by you. Jesus was with the apostles. He is with you. Be willing to leave what is not good for you, and let him make of you a good person.