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Monday, January 22, 2018

Nuclear Alert! Welcome to Nineveh.

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jan. 21, 2018
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, AZ

This story came out of Hawaii last week. It started out as a normal Saturday for most Hawaiians, including Dallas and 
Monica Carter and their five children. 

Monica was getting breakfast ready for the kids before a busy day when the warning blared across smartphone screens throughout the island: BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. It was the same kind of warnings Hawaiians are used to receiving for tsunamis and hurricanes -- the kind of warning they’re used to heeding. 

“That was quite terrifying, of course,” said Dallas Carter, a theology lecturer for the Diocese of Honolulu.

Dallas said he had three thoughts once he had processed the alert. The first was: “Oh, I haven’t gone to confession yet!”  Number two was, “Ok, how do I do this perfect contrition thing?” Number three was “We have to get the kids praying Rosary.”

Soon after the initial warning, Dallas ran to the neighbors to see if they had gotten the same alert, and checked on some elderly neighbors while formulating a possible plan to get his family to the shelter of his concrete classroom. When he ran back inside the house, he found that his wife had placed the
Our Lady of Guadalupe
family's Our Lady of Guadalupe statue in the middle of the breakfast table, and all of the kids were praying the Rosary. Dallas’ wife had not long ago read a story about Jesuits in Hiroshima who were spared during the atomic blast because of their consecration to Jesus through Mary.  “My wife did the more important thing. She prayed,” Dallas said.

The eldest of the Carter children, was waken by her nine-year-old brother. “I remember thinking what’s going on? I literally just wanted to pray. I concentrated so hard on the Rosary, I was like ‘Come on Mary I know you can do this,’” she said. Desperate for news, Dallas ran to his truck to turn on the radio. Instead of hearing static, or more warnings,

he heard a football game and talk radio -- nothing out of the ordinary. The family started to breathe a little easier, but they waited along with the rest of the island - for 30 minutes before they got the official all-clear. They later learned the false warning was an error on the part of an employee at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

In today’s first reading (Jonah 3:1-5,10), the prophet Jonah was sent by God to proclaim the message of repentance to the Ninevites. This message was urgent. God said to Jonah,
"Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you.” So, Jonah begins his journey announcing the words of the Lord that "Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed.” The Ninevites respond to the message of God given through Jonah. They proclaim a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth. We hear that God saw their sincere repentance and so He does not carry out the chastisement upon the city. 

In light of what happened to the state of Hawaii last Saturday, we ask ourselves are we prepared for whatever may come. Have we been to confession lately? Are we praying 
regularly? Are are hearts in the right state if we are unable to go to confession?

The truth is that Our Lord Jesus has come into our world and called us to conversion. But many souls are in jeopardy of losing eternal life. When Jesus walked the earth he denounced those who did not believe. He said this is
“an evil and unfaithful generation.” Our Lord said to the Jewish people that at the final judgement the men of Nineveh will arise  and condemn that generation because the men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah but the Jews would not repent at Christ's words. And the Person they had before them, Jesus, is much greater than Jonah (Matthew 12:41).

If Jesus condemned the unbelievers of His generation, what will He say about ours?

The truth is that when societies turn away from God they bring judgment upon all of us. Jesus said there will be wars and upheavals while this current world is ending. Our Lord came to prepare us for the new heaven and the new earth.
“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel." This is the time to prepare.
In fact, I’m sure we would all like it if God would send out a universal text message to everyone 30 minutes before the end of the world. After all, wasn't the prophet Jonah sending out an ancient text message? Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed!

Actually, Our Lord and the Blessed Mother have been sending out warnings and signs.  The problem is that we have been ignoring them. That's why the people of Nineveh were so unique. They did not ignore the prophecy. They responded with sackcloth, fasting, and ashes.

My brothers and sisters, God does not want
Fr John Paul Shea
us to wait until the next crisis to repent. He wants us to be prepared now. Saint Paul tells us in today’s second reading (1 Cor 7:29-31) that
“from now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away.” May we therefore commit our hearts to what is truly necessary to our salvation. May Our Lord Jesus protect us from all harm and guide us into eternal life. Amen.

Our Lady of the Rosary 

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