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  Word To Life


Sunday Scripture Readings, Jan. 22, 2012

By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service


January 22, Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Cycle B. Readings:

1) Jonah 3:1-5, 10

Psalm 25:4-9

2) 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Gospel: Mark 1:14-20

I can get obsessed with the little things of life.

Sometimes I fixate on a particular material possession I have yet to acquire. I'll scour the Internet for much longer than necessary trying to find the best deal or travel from store to store looking for the exact "right" version of whatever it is I am preoccupied with at the moment.

Other times, I get overly consumed by the way things appear to the outside world. Whether it is my personal appearance or my perception of how others perceive me, I tend to give too much of myself to these thoughts.

I am not particularly proud of these aspects of my life, especially after reading this week's Scriptures. Jonah walked through Nineveh delivering God's message that in 40 days the city would be destroyed. The people repented and God had mercy.

St. Paul says, "I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out ... for the world in its present form is passing away." Then I read Jesus proclaiming, "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel."

Each of these messages cuts me to the core when I think about the amount of time I waste on petty things. Years ago, when I was pursuing a degree in theology, one of the professors really rocked my world when he challenged students to examine our lives and assess the degree to which our activities were helping us grow closer to God, strive for heaven and bring others along for the ride.

I immediately thought of the countless hours I spent watching sporting events and felt a little indicted. The professor was quick to point out that he was not suggesting that every moment of every day was supposed to be 100 percent directly related to personal spiritual formation and evangelization. He simply was exhorting us to seek higher things and work more at building the kingdom.

This Sunday's readings have a similar message: Compared to eternity, our time on earth is very brief. With the new year just starting, this is a good time to refocus and refixate on things with eternal consequences.

QUESTIONS:

What are some things that can be obsessions for you? What can you do to become more focused on building the kingdom of God?

SCRIPTURE TO BE ILLUSTRATED:

"This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15).

END



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