Homily for October 3, Monday of the XXVII week in Ordinary Time, year I
Our lengthy first reading today brings us a good chunk of the book of Jonah. God calls Jonah to go to the great city of Nineveh and to preach against it, announcing God’s wrath for the sins of the people of the city. Apparently Jonah did not like to get involved in conflict, and perhaps feared that the citizens of the city would not take well to the fiery message that God wanted Jonah to deliver. So, instead of doing what God asked, Jonah ran away. But as the saying goes, “he can run, but he can’t hide.” God doesn’t let Jonah go peacefully; instead of ending up in Tarshish, Jonah ends up in the belly of a fish. Only then does he turn to God with hope and contrition. His prayer is used as the responsorial psalm today.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us a parable of the Good Samaritan, which in some ways is the opposite of the story of Jonah. Jonah is asked by God to do a work of charity: to exercise a form of fraternal correction to bring sinners back to God. As long as Jonah resists God’s plan out of fear, everything goes badly for him. The Good Samaritan is also invited by God to perform an act of charity, and he also has reason to fear; the wounded man by the side of the road could be a decoy meant to attract more victims for the robbers. But the Samaritan does not run away, as do the other travelers and as did Jonah. On the contrary, he takes the risk of giving his time and resources to help the robbers’ victim. Jesus invites us to do the same.
We would do well to ask ourselves what we do when God calls us to go outside our comfort zone to help other people. Do we try to run away, like Jonah? Or do we run to the side of those in need? May God help us to know that, when we are doing His will, we have nothing to fear. We may run into difficulties, and we might not succeed in our goals, but what matters is to be doing what we believe God wants from us. He can multiply the positive effects of our small successes, and get good fruit even out of our failures.