We arre now three weeks into 2012. Does this time still have the feel of a “new” year? Do you still feel the possibility of good things to come? Hopefully this year has not simply become the “same old thing.”
Some people begin a new year with actual resolutions — resolving to do something, to stop doing something, or to act in a different manner. More people create a “to do list” of things that they want to accomplish. Almost everyone thinks about or expresses hopes of what they want to see or to accomplish as a new year begins.
The scripture of this weekend gives us a chance to ONCE AGAIN start over — to make things new. If we did start … and then falter … we can start again. If our thoughts never turned into action, then once again, we have a chance to begin.
The key word this weekend is the word repent. To “feel sorrow” AGAIN for what was not … and to get back on track. To repent is to turn around — to refocus and head in the right direction. To repent is to let go of what is draining life from us and to take on new behaviors that fulfill us and reward us. In other words …. it is to let go of the old and to MAKE THINGS NEW.
In Jonah 3:1-5, 10, the prophet Jonah walks through the enormously large city of Nineveh calling the people to turn from their evil ways … i.e. to repent. In the Gospel selection, [Mark 1:14-20] Jesus calls the people/us to recognize that THIS IS THE TIME of fulfillment …repent and BELIEVE in the Gospel.
In the selection from Jonah, we hear that because the people turned from their evil ways, “God repented and did not carry out the evil he intended to do.” NOW … THIS IS CERTAINLY AN OLD [TESTAMENT] WAY OF THINKING. No harm came to the people because they changed their behavior …. so God did not punish them.
Let’s look at it in a slightly different way. Could it be that no harm came to the people because they step away from an oncoming train of disaster? Could it be that the behavior the people were engaged in WAS WHAT WOULD CAUSE THE HARM …. not God! So, if they had stayed in their bad behavior, destruction would have come to them. By moving into a different way of behaving, a different way of acting, a different way of thinking, the people avoided trouble.
If I fail to set aside money for retirement …. will God punish me, or will I cause destruction because of my lack of planning? If I do not manage my eating and drinking habits a little more, will God be the cause of heart problems and diabetes, or will I have chosen this way of diminished health? If I do not pay more attention to my job and I get fired, did God do that … or did I lose a good thing on my own?
Destruction is within the “bad” stuff. Collapse is within evil itself. Misery lies within poor choices.
The people of Nineveh BELIEVED God … and changed course. Too often, we do not believe …. but we live in dis-belief. This is not really that bad …. or …. I will get around to it later; I have plenty of time.
OK: so here we are again …. just like at the end of 2011. THIS IS THE TIME of fulfillment ….. believe in the good news of good choices and wise behavior. Turn away from denial/disbelief and good things can still happen! We still have 49 weeks in 2012.
What good things need to be “taken on”? What bad things need to be let-go-of?
What things need to take priority over the next three weeks? And WHEN will I/we start. God saw the actions of the people …..not their thoughts …. not their plans … not their wishes …. but their actions. AND THEN THINGS WERE DIFFERENT …..not so much because God changed HIS MIND ….. but because the people changed their ways.
Think of this simple example: if I drink too much and wake up in the morning with a headache …. did God do that to me to punish me …. or did I do it to myself?
What am I doing to myself, to my family, to my relationship with God, at work …. that could lead to disaster/punishment if I do not pay attention to it NOW?
Today is a new day, now is a new time.