REPENT AND BELIEVE

Monday, 1st Week in Ordinary Time              

            The whole of scripture is a continuous invitation to repentance and to believe in the Gospel – that good news of the kingdom of God. It is an invitation to turn away from everything that keeps us selfish and self-centered, and to turn to God as the center of our lives. It is an invitation to strip ourselves of any form of complacency that makes us forget what matters most in life and to set our hearts first on the kingdom of God. It is an invitation to repent and to believe in the Good News – the good news of the self-giving love of the Father, the good news of the self-sacrificing love of the Son, the good news of the empowering love of the Holy Spirit in us… the good news that God loves each and everyone of us and that God has a way for us that gives life… fullness of life… eternal life with him in his kingdom.

            In the Gospel according to Mark, the term “gospel” or “the good news” is understood not only as concerning Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is himself the good news. To “believe in the gospel” is to “put faith in Jesus Christ.” To believe is not just to give our intellectual assent but to surrender our entire being to Christ and to commit ourselves in proclaiming his Gospel.

            The Lord Jesus demands from us a corresponding commitment to his mission – of bringing glad tidings to the poor. Again, how can we become good news to the poor? One of the most striking answers to this question that I got came from my professor in Liberation Theology who said: “The Good News that the followers of Christ must bring today in our world is not just composed of beautiful words or teachings or proclamations.” “God’s Good News must really be a good news to the poor – meaning, enough and nutritious food for the hungry, decent house and basic necessities for the homeless, stable work or dependable livelihood for the jobless, right medicine and medical assistance for the sick, quality education and training for the out-of-school youth…”

            I hope and pray that we’d always remember what Pope Francis said: “You cannot take away the poor from the Gospel. Without the poor, you will never understand the Gospel.” “You have to be identified with the poor, just like Jesus, for you to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and for you to be good news to the poor.”

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