Readings (click readings for full text)
The time has come, Jesus preached, repent and believe in the Good News.
This theme of repentance/forgiveness appears as a thread in Jesus’ life and ministry. He begins with it, each story he tells deals with it – it is found on his dying lips and it is his resurrection gift to his disciples. These same disciples on hearing his teaching to repent and believe respond by leaving all and following him.
This is the one thing necessary to prepare for the coming of the kingdom – true repentance and the grace of humility before God. Faith presupposes repentance and humility. Pride in our own ways and trust in the promises of the world shut out the possibility of openness to what Christ preaches as the Good News.
What is good about the Good News? What is new about the Good News? Why did the fishermen leave their nets so readily and follow him? Maybe it was easier to see at the beginning.
To know our faith as something new, something good, something to leave all in search of would indeed be a liberation. The burden of faith is what is remembered most often. Religion is seen or experienced as an imposition, as dull and flat- as a dreary obligation or an insurance against something worse. This is obviously not religion as Christ taught or as the disciples knew.
The Gospel as preached by Christ was a gospel of joy, a message of hope to the suffering, and a story of liberation to all of us who are in slavery to the power of death.
It is a story of a new start, based on repentance and humility before God. It is the story of a new agreement or covenant between God and God’s people, the story of a new law of love written not on stone but on the hearts of people. It is Good News to be received not as a burden but as a joy and as a liberation.
The kingdom preached and announced by Christ is a kingdom based on the ways of God. It is a kingdom for the least and littlest of this world, a kingdom where the limitations and suffering of this world come to an end and a kingdom where all the tears and tensions of life will be dissolved and wiped away. It is above all a kingdom of eternal life, Good News to those who live in the shadow of death (all of us). It is eternal freedom, eternal generosity, eternal togetherness. It is eternally new, eternally good and it is to be eternally in the presence of the living and loving God.