Sunday, January 27, 2008

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 1-27-2008

Ordinary Time – 3rd Sunday
January 27, 2008

Isaiah 8:23-9:3
1 Cor 1:10-13,17
Matthew 4:12-23

The Word of the Lord. We say it after every reading. The Gospel of the Lord – we say after each reading of the gospel. This Word and Good News has power, according to our faith. It brings life and light to us. In Matthew Chapter 4 we hear two powerful commands from Jesus.

The first command is this: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

This are the first words of His call to every one to become his disciples. He spoke it to the crowds 2000 years ago, and he speaks the same words to us today. These words are universal.

Repent. We all know what it means. Turn away from sin. Believe the gospel. Live the commands of Jesus. We all know the areas where we fall short. Because we still sin. We still aren’t perfectly united with the Lord.

Repent. The follower of Jesus is a person who continues to practice repentance so as to strive for holiness of life. Because the goal is to become holy. To be united with Christ in this world and in the next.

Repent. One of the benefits of practicing repentance is that it begins to really open our eyes to see the Kingdom of God alive all around us. Sin darkens our comprehension. Sin limits our vision. Sin stunts our spiritual growth. But repentance from sin brings light, vision, and the fullness of the kingdom.

I would like to name three things that Christians can do to practice repentance. Do these things to live the Kingdom of God to which Jesus calls us.

Repentance practice #1. Formation of Conscience. We all know that we are supposed to follow our consciences. But if our conscience is going to provide good leadership then it needs to be a well equipped conscience. Your conscience gets equipped with knowledge and reason. Think about it this way. Nobody wants to follow a leader who is ignorant and has bad judgment. That can only go to a bad end. So form your conscience through study of the bible and the teachings of the Church. Kids, go to CCD every Sunday. Teens, go to youth group regularly. Parents. Work with your kids. While they are learning you will learn too. All adults. Study your faith every week. Think you are too busy? Try the Catholic CD’s we have in the vestibule. Listening to those in the car will equip you with good teaching and good stories. The development of knowledge and reason is a lifelong task. Everybody. Form your conscience.

Repentance practice #2. Examination of Conscience. If our conscience has some content and reason to it then we have some tools to work with in reflecting on our lives. Do this every night before bed. Spend a little time in prayer and in reflection on the day. Give God thanks for the light and grace given during the day. Ask God for pardon for the sins committed during the day. In that way we can rest in God’s peace during the night. Repentance practice #2. Examination of Conscience.

Repentance practice #3. The Sacrament of Penance. Jesus considered the practice of penance so important that he sacramentalized it for us. He gave the Apostles the power to forgive or to retain sins. This same power is shared with the priests of the Church. This power is given so that we all can confess our sins and be forgiven 77 x7 times. As many times as we need until that sin is worked out of our lives and is replaced by God’s love and peace. The Sacrament of Penance is a great gift of God to us. It is grace to overcome sin. Make use of it, good people. It brings us peace of heart. Repentance practice #3. The sacrament of Penance.

Listen once again to the first command of Jesus and take it to heart. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Now listen to the second command of Jesus. This was to Peter and Andrew. But make no mistake - it is also for us. Listen to his words. “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

For Peter and Andrew this meant the vocation to be apostles and high priests of the New Covenant. The greatest decision of their lives was to take this word of Jesus to heart. So they dropped their nets and began following him. Jesus made them new. Slowly but surely the new creation Jesus made through those words formed them into the men who would change the world.

Come after me. Jesus says it to you and me today.

Come after me. Each of us has a vocation that is God’s unique call in our lives. God made us for a good purpose. God has given each of us a new hope.

Come after me. For some people here this command of the Lord means a re-dedication of your life to the Lord. Because you haven’t been following him lately. So repent. Rededicate. Renew. Give yourself to Jesus once again.

Come after me. For others here this command of the Lord means a radical change in your life. Like Peter and Andrew, you need to drop what you are doing. You need to leave the past behind and take a new direction. You may need to leave everything familiar behind. Responding to this call will change your life. It may very well change the world.

Truly I tell you, the words of Jesus have the power to change everything. So hear them again with fresh ears.

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.

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