OFFICE FOR LITURGY

of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

 

 

 

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Repent, and believe the Good News

The Word This Week

Where does Jesus begin his ministry? Where John the Baptist left off - preaching a message of repentance, of change, to welcome the new Kingdom of God. There is a simplicity about this message, which is not compromised by anything - today’s Gospel has these simple words from Jesus, and then the story of his calling more disciples to follow him and share in the work of spreading this message. Repentance has had something of a bad press - we tend to think of it as an old-fashioned concept. But every age needs to hear this call: to look at what we do and say and assume, and realise that there are such things as right and wrong, and that sometimes we follow the wrong path. To follow Jesus, and to accept the Kingdom of God, demands that we make a radical choice, which might well change our lives.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Jonah 3:1-5.10.

The story of Jonah is meant to make a point - that sometimes we need to repent, and that it isn’t impossible to do so. Nineveh was a famously wicked city, and Jonah was understandably reluctant to go anywhere near it with the message of repentance (hence all the business with the whale as he ran away). But when he does go to Nineveh, he is as surprised as anyone that they hear and act on his message. This is a simple story: do not allow the simplicity to blunt the effect of your reading. Think about phrases like “...it took three days to cross it...”, imagine what it means, and read accordingly! Save your special emphasis for two important events: the people listening to Jonah (“...and the people of Nineveh believed in God...) and God relenting. These are the keys to the reading, and link us to the Gospel where we will hear Jesus preaching repentance as Jonah did.

 

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 7:29-31.

What seems a rather gloomy reading is a lot deeper than might first appear. Paul is not just telling us to wander round with miserable expressions on our faces: he wants us to realise that the world we now inhabit is not the world we will spend eternity in. We should be careful not to pin our hopes on the passing things of this passing world, because that is a path to serious disappointment. The world that is coming will turn everything upside down - those who mourn will have nothing to mourn about, but those who spend all their time enjoying themselves will have nothing to laugh about. Take your time with this reading: it is a list, so you can pause between each of the double items on the list. The first and last words of the reading explain why Paul is talking like this - “our time is short...” and “this world is passing away.” It is important that the congregation hears these words, to make sense of the rest of the reading. Particularly underline the phrase “should not become engrossed in it.” Even though we must live in “the world”, it must not take over all our awareness.

Wordsearch

Click on the link to get this week's Gospel based Wordsearch. Feel free to copy and paste it into your parish publications.