Jesus gets right down to work in Sunday’s Gospel. “Repent,” He says, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Now what is this “repentance” business? For Jesus and the early Church, it’s not just about being sorry for past sins and resolving not to do them anymore. We know better than that. Yes, I may be sorry, but that doesn’t always stop me from committing the same old sins time and time again. What Jesus had in mind was a radical change of mind and heart, moving away from our selfish self-centeredness and begin to see things the way God sees them. Our sins will always be part and parcel of our lives, but that that does not have to hinder our involvement in God’s work. That’s amazing when you think about it, isn’t it?
Now in the 2nd Reading, Paul points out a situation with which we are all familiar. He takes the Corinthians to task because they have divided loyalties. Their loyalty is not to the kingdom of God, but to personalities and ideologies. The result is division and discord.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Look at us today. Traditionalist Catholic vs. progressive. Republican vs. Democrat vs. Tea Party, Christian vs. Muslim. Obamacare, income inequality, gay marriage, gun control, abortion, immigration, global warming – did I leave out anything?
Now I could say: “OK, look at these issues the way you think God would look at them.” That’s easy … you can find Scripture quotes to support any ideology. Let me ask you this instead: Are you willing to work with others for an end to poverty and destitution, to hunger and joblessness, to communal and religious hatred, to rampant greed, ambition and shameless consumerism and to create a world of love and care, which is another name for the Kingdom of God? If you are, then you are well on the road to repentance. You are taking your citizenship and responsibilities in that Kingdom very seriously indeed. May God give success to this work of your heart.
Love deeply, pray faithfully, laugh often!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.