Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time [II]
II Samuel 24:2,9-17 + Mark 6:1-6
February 3, 2016
“The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
Today’s Gospel passage, from the sixth chapter of Mark, doesn’t really end on a high note. In his native place, Jesus was not able to perform any mighty deed, apart from curing a few sick people. . . . He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Why did they lack faith? Why do we lack faith? Why do we focus on the less important things in life: the less important types of freedom? St. Mark begins his Gospel account by answering this question. The first recorded words of Jesus are proclaimed immediately after he spends forty days in the desert, tempted by Satan. He emerges from the desert, and the first words he speaks frame the entire Gospel. Jesus proclaims, “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
Repent, and believe in the Gospel. We might say that these two demands of Jesus sum up the entire Christian faith. They lead us to faith. They lead to true freedom. And they require us to exercise our freedom, in its deepest sense: in our relationship with God.
True repentance means to turn oneself around 180°: to turn oneself away from sin, and towards God, not simply towards ourselves, and what we think we want. This is the highest type of freedom: to be able to do things for others, or in other words, to give our very self to another (another human person, or God).