3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B.

Comparisons can be made between the advice St Paul gives to the Corinthians with the advice Government medical officers are giving to the public concerning how to behave during the Covid-19 pandemic. There is an immediacy, an urgency in the messages both St Paul and government medical officers are desperate to communicate to their audience; furthermore they are not threatening those who are prepared to listen and act on their advice, but are warning them of the possible consequences if they do not take to heart advice offered with the best of intentions.

St Paul was convinced, as were the majority of followers of Jesus, that the second coming of Christ was imminent, which would indicate the end of the world: ... the last times .... the eschaton. St Paul was not a kill-joy. He wanted to instill into the community the need to be ready to greet Jesus with a pure heart and avoid being diverted from attaining eternal life by the attractions this world had to offer.

If St Paul was a government medical officer representing the medical profession in today’s Covid world he would be saying ‘Don’t party! Don’t flout safety advice! Now we have a vaccine, make use of it! Be realistic! Think of others; family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, the housebound, the lonely ....' and so on. St Paul cared about the eternal safety of Jesus’ followers in the same way as the medical profession cares about the well-being of the population at large.

St Paul is saying ‘I don’t want you to incur any more worries than you have already. Change your lifestyle. Think of what you may forfeit if you choose the pleasures of this life and miss out on the pleasures of eternal glory.’

Those whose vocation is dedicated to the medical profession are not kill-joys! They are saying ‘by not being sensible and following safety advice, you could die from Covid! Think of the suffering you may cause for your bereaved family and friends as a result of your cavalier approach to this pandemic!' We have a duty towards each other. We know that nature may seem to have the upper hand, but by following ‘safety rules’ we can limit the damage it can cause. As with life, so with the soul as Jesus demonstrated after John the Baptist had been arrested and taken out of circulation for good!

Jesus took positive action. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent .... change your lifestyle .... and believe the Good News.’

That wake-up call will never lose its relevance. Jesus set to work! He hit the ground running. ..... ‘I want you, you, you and you’ he said to Simon, Andrew, James and John. ‘Come with me, we’ve work to do!’ I don’t know whether they argued the toss with Jesus and his demands he made of them! All I know is that they were prepared to respond to Jesus whether they had met him before or not. They were prepared to change direction in life.

There are times when our actions coincide with the will of God, and in our hearts and minds we have a pretty good idea what God wants of us. Humanity can never understand the wisdom of God, but it certainly has the wit to take evasive action when danger threatens, both physically and spiritually. There are times in life when we know we have to change for our own good and the good of others.

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