By: Fr. Scott Karnik
Homily for the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (January 21, 2018):
“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.” Jesus Christ says those three powerful sentences to every human being that lives, has lived, and will live. Those sentences are life-changing. Their foundation is Jesus Christ Himself, His Life and presence here on earth, His Redemption, the Salvation He has won for us and offers to us, and the kingship He now exercises in His Messianic Kingdom. We are encouraged to enter into His Kingdom right now, by repentance. So what is repentance? Repentance is the means for us to prepare to enter into the Messianic Kingdom of Jesus. We must repent from sin because that is what Jesus the Messiah offers us salvation from. Jesus is the Messiah who saves us from sin, which separates us from God. Repentance in the New Testament means an uncompromising and faithful change of our attitudes, our actions, our values, our affections. It also means a complete and faithful acceptance of the good news in the gospels that Jesus Christ proclaims. Jesus’s call to repentance that deep continues today in this Church. We know that because Jesus called Andrew, Peter, James, and John and others to be His immediate disciples. Christ’s redeeming mission continues today, after His death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. It continues in this Church, the one Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to. The successors to His immediate Apostles are accredited teachers of the Gospel to this very day.
Jesus does not leave us orphans. He is present to us to help us repent. Jesus is present in the sacraments this Church offers. Confession and Eucharist are two which particularly help us to repent from sin. Jesus preaches that the very power of God is available to those who open themselves to Him in His Sacraments and exercise His Gospel-way of loving service.
That what the Ninevites did. They turned from their evil ways. When God saw Nineveh’s complete, sincere turning away from sin, God repented from the destruction He promised them. He did not carry it out. Notice the interaction of two words: “turn” and “repent.” When God saw by their actions how they TURNED from their evil way, He REPENTED of the evil that He had threatened to do to them; He did not carry it out. If the people turn, Yahweh repents. Those two verbs converge into the repentance spoken of in the New Testament. The sinner turns or bends and changes the course of his or her life, one’s actions, one’s beliefs. The sinner repents by feeling regret for one’s sins and changes his or her mind to reject sinfulness. Jesus compliments the Ninevites for their repentance.
We will not repent by ourselves. We will repent with the grace and the very power of God Himself in the sacraments of this Church. Confession and Eucharist are two very big ones.
Notice that the entire city of Nineveh repents, including the king. The king proclaims a fast and commands that “every man shall turn from his evil way.” Even a powerful king believes God’s message of repentance. That is encouraging to us who are called to build a culture of life in this country. God accompanies us with His Own Power, His Grace, to help us to build the very kingdom He wants to establish. It is a kingdom of holiness, forgiveness, love, mercy, and life. We start by praying. We continue by turning from our sins, we speak up, and we persuade others by speaking out for a better culture to replace the culture of death that supports abortion and physician-assisted suicide. That better culture is the culture of life which includes a man and a woman in love and in marriage. It includes a child or children who are grounded in happiness and stability because they know that their mother and father are faithfully and lovingly married and that life is respected and revered. God will not let one word of ours fall to the ground without effect.
We must repent of our individual sins and our society must repent of its collective sins. The time to speak out for a culture of life is now. The place to speak out for a culture of life is here. May we begin.
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