The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and He remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to Him.
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: “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. Beginnings are usually accompanied by hopes and expectations as well as by anxieties and uncertainties. If the prevailing experiences have been gloomy and enslaving, the dawn of a new era — in a new leader, system, or environment promising change and better life — is eagerly awaited.
Change does not happen automatically, however, no matter how good the leader or the new programs. The recipients must be prepared and ready to change and adjust to the new climate; otherwise, real change will not take place, and the new opportunities will be wasted in the process. As Jesus will later say, “No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins” (Mk 2:21-22).
On the first Sunday of Lent, we are invited to reflect on the need for a change of heart in view of the salvation that is coming to us.
At the beginning of his Galilean ministry, Jesus calls people’s attention to the privileged time they are in: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk 1:15). And, accordingly, he invites them to act in accord with this opportune time (kairos): “Repent (metanoeite), and believe (pisteuete) in the Gospel.” Jesus points to the presence of the Son of Man in their midst, making present God’s Kingdom by his words and deeds.
Despite Jesus’ manifestation of the signs of God’s Kingdom, many do not heed his call to repentance. Change of heart requires hard work to make “shallow, rocky, and thorny soils” conducive for the seed of God’s word to grow and bear fruit. Those who prove to be more “fertile and ready” bear fruit and become followers and co-laborers with Jesus.
We are a Christian country. But we wonder how many have gone through the process of conversion, of being — like farm soil — plowed, harrowed, cleared of stones and thorns. Corruption and other forms of injustice and poverty, prevalent in scandalous proportions, suggest that the Gospel challenge to take advantage of the opportune time and live according to it has not been well received.
As a people, we are grace-filled and blessed in many aspects. But we seem to have squandered these resources as time and again we go back to the same bickering, selfish, and corrupt ways. May the grace of God make us constant and steadfast in our resolve to humble ourselves and walk in the path of authentic conversion.
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: email@example.com; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.