A New Way, A New World

In the reading from Jonah, God told him to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh. When the whole city repented the very first day, they showed it by wearing sackcloth and fasting from food. Sometimes we might think that way: That repenting means punishing ourselves or feeling sorry. Jesus sees things differently.

He preached repentance that was a change of heart, a new way of looking at things, a new way of acting. In the gospel today, we see an example. The first people he calls to be disciples were fisherman. They would have considered their family, their partners, and their boat as the most important things in their lives. You need all of them to be a successful fisherman. One man sitting on a dock with a pole could barely keep himself fed, much less support a family.

Yet the disciples don’t even hesitate when called by Jesus. They leave behind their boats, their nets, even their father, to follow Jesus. They don’t worry about what they will do, or look back at what they are leaving behind. Now they are fishers of men. Their “repentance” was more than just giving up sins. They were beginning a new life and a new way of looking at the world.

Saint Paul refers to this as a new world. By following Jesus, we put the values of the present world behind us and look forward to a new one. His examples could apply today as much as in his time. Marriages, joy, sadness, buying property are still considered important to worldly people. Paul doesn’t expect everyone to stop doing those things. When he talks about not using the world fully, he means not fully engaged in the world, but looking to a better one, where God is more important than any passing pleasure or pain. Is your marriage an example of God’s love for your friends and relatives? When you are rejoicing, do you give thanks to God? When weeping, do you ask for his help? When you are shopping, do you buy what you really need, or what you think will make you happy? Jesus calls us all to this new way of living. With Jesus, we can make a new world.

Tom Schmidt