Friday, January 21, 2011

3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time:

    Today in the gospel, Jesus proclaims the good news of the Kingdom. Jesus announces to the whole world that the kingdom of God is at hand. The proclamation of the kingdom is absolutely central to the very message of the gospel itself. Jesus Christ is the son of God, he came to seek out and restore what was lost. He came to overcome sin and death and inaugurate in his own body the resurrection of everlasting life. This is what the kingdom is all about. The necessary condition for entering into this kingdom is repentance.

    This word repent is a word easy to say, hard to live out. When we think of repentance we often think about Lent or about penitential actions, and while it seems like mortification is always included in repentance, the word has a more basic meaning. Our word repentance is used to translate the Hebrew word shuv. The basic meaning of this word is to turn back. If I wanted to say that I was going to the store but had to turn around I would use this word. Isn't it interesting to think about repentance in this way? To repent means to turn around. If we think about sin as wandering away from God, the solution is to turn around and head back to him. Again, this is easy to say, hard to do. To turn back to God means to leave behind our selfishness, it means to leave behind our sinfulness. In fact, it means that we leave behind our former way of living, and we turn to follow Christ. Those first disciples in the gospel today show us precisely what it means to repent: they followed Christ. They left behind their former way of life and decided to spend the rest of their lives with Jesus. The same is true for all disciples of Jesus, including all of us.

    Why would they do it? Why should we do it? Why follow Christ when it seems to cost us so much? Christ is the light of the world. It is a beautiful passage quoted today in the gospel: the people in darkness have seen a great light. Darkness, in the Bible, is a symbol for ignorance, it is a symbol for chaos, and it is a symbol for emptiness. To say that Christ is the light of the world means that he overcomes these things. Christ is a cure for our ignorance, for he reveals to us the loving Father and makes known to us the saving commands. Christ overcomes the chaos that reigns as a result of sin, we think of him as he walked on the water and told the storm to be quiet as powerful reminders of Christ's sovereignty over the chaos of the world. Christ is the light that fills the darkness. In the book of Genesis we hear that at the beginning there was only chaos and darkness, and God said let there be light. He is the fullness that enlightens the emptiness of our existence. To find Christ means to find meaning and fulfillment

    The light is true, persuasive, and beautiful. St. Paul tells us in the second reading today that the gospel he preached was without fancy rhetoric or human wisdom. The gospel is not a trick, the gospel is not a system of thought. The Gospel is Jesus Christ. The Gospel is Christ Crucified, a proclamation of the love of God for the human race. This is certainly a bright light, this is certainly attractive. We should feel ourselves drawn to this light. What else is there? The reason why the apostles left everything to follow Jesus should be our reason as well: when we meet Jesus we find the fulfillment of our deepest longings.

    Every one of us longs for the light. Instinctively, we all want the knowledge, order, and fullness that can only come from Christ. We all want to be in the light. Many of us have tried the darkness and found it wanting. Now we seek the light. Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. Turn to the light of the world, Jesus Christ, especially in this Holy Eucharist.

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