Summary: Isn’t God’s mercy good news for all of us? He’s forgiven the sins of my youth, and, yes, even my old age.

3rd Sunday in Course 2021

Poor Jonah. We can hardly blame him. God tells him to go convert the people and rulers of Nineveh, heart of the Assyrian empire. You see, the Assyrians were for about six centuries the scourge of the ancient Middle East, kind of a cross between the Huns, the Vandals and Stalin’s Communists, but worse. So Jonah takes a ship going in the opposite direction. God brews up a storm and Jonah knows why, so he tells the crew his story and begs them to throw him over the side. But he survives because of his famous man-swallowing fish, who can’t tolerate him either and spews him up on the shore. Our reading picks up here. Jonah reluctantly heads off to Nineveh, where he tells them to repent or else. Instead of killing him, they do repent. Sackcloth and ashes. God hears their prayer and spares their city. Jonah is angry that he didn’t get to watch a free fireworks display. And God asks him what he has to be mad about–that He is all merciful and forgiving? After all, God also forgave Jonah for being a bigoted jerk. Isn’t God’s mercy good news for all of us? He’s forgiven the sins of my youth, and, yes, even my old age.

We’re all a little like Jonah, aren’t we? Don’t we hesitate to share the good news of Jesus and His Church with others? If He makes us peaceful and happy despite our tendency to sin, wouldn’t all our friends benefit from that? Saint Paul is pretty clear about our mandate to spread the Good News. The form of this world is passing away. Maybe not soon with the return of Jesus in glory, but all of us will face our end sometime, and all our friends as well. So what’s more important, more urgent than asking them to replace their anxiety about the end of life with a personal relationship with Christ in the sacraments?

You see, Jesus is calling all of us, like James and John and Simon and Andrew and St. Francis Xavier and St. Teresa of Liseaux and Fulton Sheen, to be missionaries to this world. Maybe as a priest or consecrated religious, maybe as a deacon, but certainly as something, as someone acting out your baptism as priest, prophet and leader. And this past week leaves us with a particularly important mission respecting the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters.

Many of us were putting our trust in a politician to protect the unborn. Americans have become more and more pro-life in the last decade, and certainly less happy that over sixty million tiny babies have been murdered since my birthday in 1973, when the Supreme Court made the womb the most dangerous place for a baby. This past week, the political wind has become a hurricane in the wrong direction, and by the end of this year we may be forced to pay for more murders. So what can we do?

First, make sure you can defend life in conversation with others. Here’s something suggested by Pope Francis, edited by me: ask what the difference is between an abortionist and an organized crime contract killer. The only answer is that the victim of the abortionist is always innocent.

Second, let’s fill our church parking lot every Sunday with “Choose Life” license plates. They are cute, bear a simple message, and just $30 per year. Most of that money goes to help young pregnant women keep their babies alive in motherhood centers. Choose Life license plate.

Third, pray, pray, pray to protect babies before birth. Join Forty Days for Life.

Fourth, support our Catholic schools. I’m in conversation with the St. Pius principal about how to continue and even expand their pro-life activities. As a retired public school teacher, I remind you that most moral discussions can’t take place in public classrooms. But the primary mission of Catholic schools is the very thing forbidden to public educators. We’ve helped our children whenever possible to educate our grandchildren in Catholic schools, and are glad.

God is full of mercy. Many of us have at some time held squishy positions on the life issues, probably out of ignorance. Maybe you had a hand in an abortion. Get to a priest and confess. Your soul needs absolution and grace. If you have been hurt by abortion, contact the Rachel ministry. God forgives and heals. That’s the bottom line. God never changes. The Father gave the Son for us so that we might have forgiveness and new life in Jesus. Open your hearts to the gift and spread that awesome news whenever you can.

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