Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
Both the reading from the Prophet Jonah as well as the passage from St. Mark's Gospel focus on the issue of responding to God's call.
Most of us know the history of the prophet Jonah. God called him to go to Nineveh to preach. He heard the call and decided to run from it. He ended up in the belly of a whale which spewed him up onto the shore near the city of Nineveh.
In the Gospel, Simon, Andrew, James and John are called by Jesus. They hear the call and decide to follow Jesus. However, we all know that they also ran away from him in the Garden of Gethsemane when the Roman and Jewish authorities came out to arrest him.
In the end both Jonah and the apostles end up doing what God asks of them; but like every human being before and since, their response is not always what it should be. Responding to God's call challenges us to examine where our loyalties lie and to reorder our priorities.
Several times throughout the Gospels we are reminded that our vocation is to take up the cross and to follow Jesus. Like Jonah and the apostles, we sometimes are wanting in our response. Crosses are heavy burdens and likely to cause us physical and emotional pain. We ask ourselves why God makes such demands. To be honest, we will never fully answer that question in this life. God's plan unfolds gradually. Our task is to move toward God rather than run away.