Third Sunday in Ordinary Time –2021

As we celebrate this Sunday our relationship with God, our Scripture readings once again call us to conversion of heart and spirit. To use the language of the Old Testament, we are called to repent. This is a call to take certain actions in order that we may have a better relationship with God by moving towards grace and away from sin. In short, we shed bad sinful habits and continue to espouse and develop habits of virtue.

Before we begin this process and take the steps towards conversion of heart and spirit, we need to recognize that many despair because it seems too big a challenge. Our first reading today to hear of the prophet Jonah. He is sent to the massive city, the great city of Nineveh. In scripture – place is important. So we make note of the meaning of this place. The starting place of conversion is for Jonah a massive city filled with wickedness. As we apply this to our own spiritual life it may seem such a daunting task to change our ways that we become overwhelmed at even the thought of it. To change our ways and give up any sort of bad habits may seem too much, too monumental a task. This would be a victory for the Evil One. The Devil wants us to accept A spirit of defeatism. In other words, an attitude of “why bother? I will only fail. How can I possibly move towards being a saint?” These thoughts and attitudes have us giving up before we even begin.

Note that Jonah is successful in his effort. Despite the size of the city of Nineveh, he does not give up. He is undaunted in his attempt to move hearts to conversion. This is a strong message to us that we too can be successful in our personal efforts of moving towards virtuous living.

It is also noteworthy that God was quick to be merciful. To think otherwise is a mistake. It is another spiritual trap do you think that God will not forgive us or that we are unforgivable. This is another form of spiritual defeatism. Our Scripture tells us very loudly that God is quick to forgive.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus proclaims that, “the kingdom of God is at hand.” This means it is near and proximate. This means that it is happening and unfolding. Many people make the mistake of thinking that the fulfilled kingdom of God in its complete form is being proclaimed by Jesus. Many people look around the world with this many problems and mass suffering and conclude that Jesus‘s words do not match reality.

However we need to understand what Jesus was saying. Jesus was saying that the kingdom of God is at hand meaning that it is active here and now. This was true for His time and it is true for our time. What this means is that the kingdom of God is made a reality when each one of us allows the conversion of heart and spirit to happen in our lives as we move away from sinful habit and move towards living in God’s image, we not only change ourselves – but one by one- we change the world. One by one we transform earth into the kingdom of God. This is the activity that continues. This is how the kingdom of God is at hand.

This is also a very hopeful message. This message from Scripture tells us that it is possible for us to live in the image of God. It is possible for us to live in a state of grace and goodness which is our true nature. It affirms our goodness and connection to God.

So as we continue in this new year let us accept the call of Scripture and the invitation of our God that is constantly extended to us. Let us take a spiritual inventory of our habits, behavior, words, and deeds. What needs to change? What do we need to stop doing? What do we need to start doing? What do we need to continue doing? All so that we may live more and more in the image and likeness of our God.

Today let us re-commit to conversion of heart. Let us receives the abundant mercy of God. And let us convert the world by converting our own hearts – and so make the kingdom of God at hand.


First Reading
Jon 3:1-5, 10

The Ninevites turned from their evil way.

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Jonah

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
Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. :

R. (4a) Teach me your ways, O Lord.

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.

R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.

Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
   and your love are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
   because of your goodness, O LORD.

R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.

Good and upright is the LORD;
   thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice
   and teaches the humble his way.

R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.

Second Reading
1 Cor 7:29-31

The world in its present form is passing away.

A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians

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 Acclamation
Mk 1:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent and believe in the Gospel.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Mk 1:14-20

Repent and believe in the Gospel.

croce_vangelo.pngA reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark

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 abandoned 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.

At the end of the Gospel, the Deacon, or the Priest, acclaims:

The Gospel of the Lord.

All reply:

Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

4 thoughts on “Third Sunday in Ordinary Time –2021

  1. Well said, Andrew Hougan! We all need to repent and make the kingdom of God at hand! Sure do miss you as priest and pastor in Sandwich.


  2. Amen amen! Andrew Hougan please keep sending these reflections. My priest and pastor rarely says anything that gives us a challenge. Pray for the diocese of Rockford and its bishop.


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