Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

January 24, 2021

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.

Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 25: 4-9)

Refrain: Teach me your ways, O Lord.

1) Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God, my Savior. (Refrain:)

2) Remember that your compassion, O Lord, and your kindness are from of old.
In your kindness remember me, because of your goodness, O Lord. (Refrain:)

3) Good and upright is the Lord; thus, he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice, and teaches the humble his way. (Refrain:)

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 left 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.

(Copyright 1970, 1986, 1992, 1998, 2001 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc. Washington D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Copyright 1970, 1997, 1998 Contraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc. Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

The English translation of some Psalm responses, some Alleluia and Gospel verses and the Lenten Gospel Acclamations, some Summaries, and the Titles and Conclusion of the Readings, from the Lectionary for Mass copyright 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc., Washington D.C. All rights reserved.

The poetic English translation of the sequences of the Roman Missal are taken from the Roman Missal approved by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States, copyright 1964 by the National Catholic Welfare Conference, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission of ICEL.)


Dynamic Preaching: Seven Worlds Corporation, 310 Simmons Road, Knoxville, TN 37922.

The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis, pp. 98 - 105, Macmillan Company, NY 1946.

More Telling Stories, Compelling Stories, by William J. Bausch, pp. 11-14. Twenty-Third Publications, Mystic, CT 1993.

Other Stories on Love:

A Legacy of Love, from Chicken Soup for the Soul, by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, pp. 117-118. Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, Fla. 1993.

The Martyrdom of Andy, from A Second Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul, by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, pp. 50 - 54. Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, Fla. 1995. (Specifically mentions "whatsoever you do to the least...".)

Who You Are Makes a Difference, from Chicken Soup for the Soul, pp.19 - 21.

In the Living Years by Mike and the Mechanics.

Homiletic Ideas:

Jonah knew what God wanted him to do. God wanted Jonah to conduct revival services over in Ninevah. He wanted Jonah to tell the people of Ninevah to shape up or ship out. Jonah knew what God wanted him to do. Knowing God's will was not the problem. It never is. Doing God's will is the problem. Jonah decides to run. Jonah decides to escape--to get on board a ship headed in the opposite direction from Ninevah, a ship bound for Tarshish, in Spain, the furthest point to which ships traveled in the known world at that time. The author of this little book tells us that Jonah was fleeing from the presence of the Lord. He was not the first to do that--nor the last.

There are people who still run from God. Some run off to the lakes in the summer time. Some run to a bottle of booze or drugs. Some run to lives of tedious mediocrity with no great purpose for their lives. Some run to politics or even self-satisfied religions that do not require them to heed the problems of the world around them. But the result is always the same. THERE IS NO PEACE AWAY FROM GOD. Jonah could run to the ends of the earth or even the bottom of the ocean in the belly of a fish, but without God, he would never find what he needed most--and neither will we.

And why are we running? Do we feel unworthy of God's great love? Are we afraid that God will ask us to do something that we do not want to do, like the ghost in Lewis' story? Don't we know that we cannot run from God? That is one of the lessons we learn from Jonah's experience. There is no running from God. God is our natural home. God is the source of joy, love, and peace. Without God there is no happiness. The longer we fight doing God's will, the more unhappy we'll be. The peace that we wish each other at every Mass is actually a peace that comes from the acceptance of God's will. The ghost in Lewis' story was only happy after he shed the shackles of the sin which bound him. Sometimes perhaps we feel that God could never love us after all we've done. But that couldn't be further from the truth. God wants us home in heaven with him, and we will never be truly happy anywhere else. (2)

(1. Rolls Royce and Husband.By Daer Platt, Houston, TX. From Dynamic Preaching, Seven Worlds Corporation, 310 Simmons Road, Knoxville, Tn. 37922. Used with permission.)

2. Ibid.


Do It Now!

In last week's liturgy, we heard an excerpt from John's gospel which was similar to the reading in today's gospel from Mark in which Jesus calls his first disciples. In both readings, the disciples left all behind and followed the call that our Lord made to them. In today's first reading, we heard of Jonah's successful preaching in Nineveh and how their repentance brings about God's forgiveness. Now if this is all we heard from this marvelous little book (it only takes about five minutes to read it in its entirety), we would think that Jonah was a wonderful prophet of God. What this reading doesn't include from the book of Jonah makes us realize that he is anything but a willing participant in God's plan. In the first two chapters of this book is the story of Jonah's flight when God first calls him and his eventual swallowing by a whale, a story with which we should all be familiar. And if this lesson wasn't enough for him to learn, after God forgives the people in this excerpt, Jonah goes into another fit of anger, flees the city and sulks in a tent outside its walls. So we can see that Jonah is hardly a figure to be emulated and not at all like the disciples in the gospel.

Jonah's problem was that he didn't want to do what God wanted him to do. God wanted Jonah to go preach to the people of Ninevah and Jonah didn't want to go. We can understand that, can't we? There are things that God wants us to do and sometimes we have difficulty motivating ourselves to do them. Our problem is not determining God's will for us, it is motivating ourselves to do the things that we already know God wants us to do.

Just like the ghost in the story, we always have loads of excuses why we can't do God's will right now. But that's not what the disciples in the gospel passage did. Christ called them and "immediately", as Mark puts it, they followed him. They didn't make excuses; they didn't say that they would have to settle their affairs first. They just left everything behind and followed him.

So how do we follow answer God's call and do his will in our own lives? Well, that is something which each of us have to look into our hearts to discern. But we have probably all had times when we have behaved as Jonah did: we don’t want to do the things we know that we should do and that God wants us to do. Consider the following true story.

If this writer hadn’t been given this assignment in his class, he probably would have never reconciled with his father until it was too late to do so.

Just this past Wednesday (1/17/18), a teenage daughter lost both of her parents in an accident on Route 80 in North Jersey. She wrote this on social media:

We all need to tell the people that we love how much we love them. We always presume that they know. But maybe they don't, and besides we need to do so before it’s too late.

God is calling us to listen to his voice, follow his commands to love one another (including by verbalizing it) and to be his light to all nations. Once we realize what God's will is in our hearts, all we need to do is put it into action. Perhaps it could be something as simple as saying I love you - three little words that could change our lives and the lives of those around us as they did for the man in our story, something that Christ told each one of us from the cross. Think about it and then follow the advice in those old Nike commercials we used to see: just do it.

Alternate second story:

  1. Do It Now. Copyright 1995 by Dennis E. Mannering. (He is the author of How Good Managers Become Great Leaders, plus several audio-cassettes including Motivation In Action. He may be reached at Options Unlimited, 617 Sunrise Lane, Green Bay, WI. 54305 or 1-800-236-3445. From A Second Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul, copyright 1995 by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, pp. 46-48. Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL. Used with permission of the author.
  2. From Selena Rodriguez

(Copyright 2018 by the Spirit through Deacon Sil Galvan, with a little help from the friends noted above. Permission is freely granted for use, in whole or in part, in oral presentations. For permission to use in writing, please contact the human intermediary at

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

January 24, 2021

Penitential Rite

Lord Jesus, you have called us to be your disciples. Lord, have mercy.

Christ Jesus, you have called us to follow your example and obey the will of the Father. Christ, have mercy.

Lord Jesus, you have called us to be a light to all nations. Lord, have mercy.

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

January 24, 2021

Prayers of the Faithful

Celebrant: Our Lord has called each of us to proclaim the good news of his gospel by the way we live. With confidence that he will intercede for us, we bring our prayers and petitions to the Father.

Deacon/Lector: Our response is "Lord, hear our prayer."

That the Spirit will guide and inspire those who have been called to lead and serve the members of the Church, we pray to the Lord.

That the leaders of the nations of the world will come to put aside their differences and work for peace, we pray to the Lord.

That the sick, the terminally ill and those who are grieving the loss of a loved one will find comfort in their belief in the good news, we pray to the Lord.

That the Holy Spirit will continue to bless all those who instruct our children in our Catholic schools, we pray to the Lord.

That the Lord will inspire us to become prophets in the lives of others through our good works, we pray to the Lord.

That all of our brothers and sisters will be treated as our equals in the sight of God regardless of their race, color, nationality or religion, we pray to the Lord.

That all of those who have contracted the Corona virus will be healed, that those who have died will be welcomed into the loving arms of their Savior who suffered for them and that their grieving families will find strength in their faith, we pray to the Lord.

For all of the intentions we hold in our hearts and which we now recall in silence. (Pause) For all of these intentions, we pray to the Lord.

Celebrant: Gracious Father, you sent your Son to call us to repentance and to believe in the good news. Grant us the grace of your Spirit to faithfully follow him until we see his loving countenance in your everlasting kingdom. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.