“I tell you, brethren,” St. Paul wrote to his contemporaries 2000 years ago, “time is running out.” Time is still running out, and we, like him, live in the End Times. Everything passes but the Word of God, Jesus Christ. “Heaven and earth will pass away,” Christ said, “but my words will not pass away.” It’s healthy to climb a hill over a large city, such as Twin Peaks here in San Francisco. Gaze over the panorama of shining glass and steel buildings and say to yourself: this will all burn someday. No earthly city lasts forever. We should consider everything sub specie aeternitatis, in light of eternity. “The world in its present form is passing away,” concludes St. Paul. If we want to be eternally happy, we have to keep our minds focused on the one thing necessary, which is not Google or Tesla or American politics or climate change. The one thing necessary is God’s Word. Are we in right relationship to Him, because time is running out.
Time was running out for the Ninevites, and that is why the first reading is from the prophet Jonah. Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire in 700BC, was the largest city in the world at the time. Today the city of Mosul in Iraq is built on part of its ruins, because Nineveh was destroyed in 612 BC. All cities eventually get destroyed. Only God’s Word lasts. God had sent Jonah to the city of Nineveh to speak His Word to them. “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed” was his message. Thankfully, the people listened to God, through his prophet Jonah. They converted—that is, they turned from themselves to God—and so saved themselves and their city. The city would be destroyed later, through the infidelity of a later population, who chose not to turn to God for help.
They Followed Him
Which brings us to the Gospel. God sent his beloved Son Jesus to earth in the forty-second year of the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus. He came to a lakeside in the Galilee region of the Roman Empire and proclaimed: “This is the time of fulfilment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in me.” Some believed, but most didn’t. Of those who did believe were two brothers, James and John, sons of Zebedee, of the village of Capernaum. They had what appears to be a successful fishing business. “Come follow me,” Jesus called to them from the lake shore, “and I will make you fishers of men.” They left their father in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
They did that because they realized that time was running out. All they knew—their fishing business, their nation, their very lives—were passing away. Only this man that stood in front of them would last. Only Jesus lasts.
Do we sense that urgency in our lives? Probably not. We are pretty comfortable. As comfortable as James and John were in their successful fishing business. Jesus calls us like he called them. Will we refuse him? The most basic answer to that call is right here, at Sunday Mass. Thank you for coming to Holy Mass. Never miss a Sunday Mass if you can help it. Another practical way to follow Jesus will be next week at the Walk for Life. We are our brother’s keepers, God says. Just over 1 million human lives are lost each year in America because of our unjust laws. Do we defend these voiceless people, truly the poorest of the poor in America? Let’s stand with them, and advocate for reform of our abortion laws. I hope to see you on Saturday morning at the cathedral at 9:30 for Mass with our Archbishop, and then in front of City Hall at 12:30.