“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-20)
“This is not a drill,” the alert read. “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii, seek immediate shelter.”
One week ago, the citizens of Hawaii and the many visitors to the Aloha state were confronted with the news of an impending attack.
At 8:07 AM, a Hawaii state employee had accidentally triggered the Emergency Alert System, during a routine test. It took 38 minutes to confirm that the warning had been a false alarm.
At the same time, this event had the effect of setting off a firestorm of emotions.
Panic was followed by calm. But in those 38 precious minutes, people were terrified, felt helpless, and then a deep sigh of relief — a new appreciation for loved ones, and perhaps for Hawaii’s simple pleasures of scenic beauty with endless beaches and blue Pacific waters.
Speaking to the media, Chris Lee, a state representative, said: “This is probably going to be the single greatest learning experience for any state has ever had to figure out how to respond to an immediate threat.”
He recalled that afterward, he was at a shopping mall and said it was surreal — people were calm and friendly, and total strangers greeted one another and exchanged stories.
Sometimes good humor helps. A friend of mine tells me that already on Waikiki Beach, vendors are selling tee-shirts with the slogan: “We survived the 38 minute attack.”
Overall, as Chris Lee concluded: “The little things that people worry about in day-to-day life and get frustrated with — completely evaporated.”
This “wake up call” for Hawaii was heard around the country and the world.
So too, today’s gospel reports another wake-up call in that John the Baptist had been arrested, and Jesus was proclaiming: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
One month from now, on Ash Wednesday, we will hear these very words to begin the season of Lent.
Here is a wake-up call for all believers, so much so that hard-working, prosperous, motivated fishermen – Peter, Andrew, James, and John abandoned their nets and their way of life to follow Jesus.
Deep within these men was the conviction that Jesus was speaking to each of them.
So then, are we ready to listen to and accept the call of Jesus Christ in our own lives?
How prepared are we to forward his enduring message of faith, hope, and love? This is where the “every day little things that frustrate us evaporate” into thin air — and we see more clearly a vision of our common humanity in the lives and work of all of God’s creation.
Well, this is an alert worth taking seriously.
Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.