Today’s Gospel: Matthew 4:12-23
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” our Lord tells us in today’s Gospel.
On the surface, it can seem like a doomsday warning. In one sense, it is because Jesus wants us to be with him in heaven, and so he wants us to be cleansed of our sins before we die so that we can merit Eternity.
On the other hand, it’s a message of great joy. Why? Because Jesus is telling us that it’s not too late to change our ways and prepare ourselves for the Kingdom of God.
Either way, the core of the message remains the same. We never know the day nor the hour in which our earthly life will end. We simply cannot know, and so we must be ready at all times.
When I was in grade school, our teacher told us that we should live every single moment as if it’s our last. For a second grader, that was a pretty scary thought. I started trying to distance myself from our Golden Retriever (so she wouldn’t miss me as much) and making plans for what my family should do with my toys once I was gone. I freaked out every time I did something that could even remotely be considered sinful. I really expected Jesus to swoop down at any second and carry me away.
Thank goodness, I grew out of that phase. Yet, in a way, I wish I hadn’t grown out of it quite so much. It’s a good thing to be conscious of our thoughts and actions and to dread offending God so long as it doesn’t become obsessive and mentally unhealthy. That’s why our Lord asks us to repent. He came to bring mercy, healing, and redemption for all of humanity. He brought the kingdom to the people, as well as the opportunity to make amends for our wrongs so that we can be welcomed into it.
How often do I think about the kingdom of God in terms of the here and now? How often am I ready to repent? Only during confession? Weekly? Hourly? Every moment?
Lord, help me to be constantly mindful that the kingdom – your kingdom – is at hand and grant me a truly repentant heart.
Copyright 2014 Marge Fenelon