“THE TIME IS NOW! REPENT AND BE FAITHFUL TO JESUS CHRIST!” Sunday Gospel Reflection 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (B) by Fr. Serge Santos, OFM

What a fitting theme after the visit of our Pope Francis to the Philippines, particularly for the victims of the Yolanda (Haiyan) storm in Tacloban and Palo, Leyte. Pope Francis said, among many things, that we have to use “the languages of the mind, the heart, and the hands” to effect a change in our Christian life.

The time is now to do this as we hear Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Mark: This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

The first important element for becoming members of the messianic kingdom on earth is CONVERSION – a change of life from one of darkness (SIN) to one of light (GRACE). It requires one to be holy, a true return to God. Secondly, anyone in the kingdom of God BELIEVES IN and PRACTICES the message of Jesus Christ. This is the message of SALVATION which tells us how we were given ETERNAL LIFE in heaven which the coming of Christ on earth brought to us.

At the very beginning of Christ’s ministry, we know that he first disciples of Christ and later became apostles were Peter, Andrew, John and James. They were fishermen and they became “fishers of men.” The first disciples preached the good news of Jesus Christ about the eternal plan of God for the salvation of humanity. This was attained through the birth (INCARNATION), suffering (PASSION), DEATH, RESURRECTION, and ASCENSION of Jesus Christ.

If we accept the divine message of SALVATION and live by it, then we too are assured of our own resurrection. However, we know that as human beings, we are weak and mortal. This is when we need Divine Mercy and Compassion.

We know at times we fail and sin…we stray from the LIGHT and go to DARKNESS.

What Jesus Christ said to the people of Galilee applies also to us in this day and age. We need to repent.

What do we need to be truly repentant, thereby deserve the MERCY and COMPASSION of God!
1. Firstly, we accept we are sinners, no exception no matter what. Acknowledge our individual responsibility in our state of sin. We need to REGRET – be sorry for our commission of these sins. Honestly accept we failed Jesus Christ; that we need his MERCY ad COMPASSION.

2. We are responsible for the sins and/or wrongs we have done. There is a need for REPARATION or RESTORATION. This means we are willing and capable to make up for the damages or harm we have caused to others. Avoid RATIONALIZATION, JUSTIFICATION, and projection of GUILT to others.

3. RECONCILIATION. The estranged or broken relationships are mended or made whole again. This requires the humility of a little child – begging for FORGIVENESS from the wronged person/s and/or restoring the material thing or resources taken from the aggrieved person/s to the fullest extent possible. Our reconciliation with each other is a RECONCILIATION with God, the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

4. RENEWAL. Once we follow the above-mentioned three steps, we will then be led to a RENEWAL – there is a change within us that is reflected in a change of behavior. This means a new way of feeling things. Result? PEACE and JOY in our spiritual life. This then will to conversion.

5. CONVERSION. This is a change of direction – turning away from SIN (Darkness) and turning towards GRACE (Light). Many saints shared in personal stories that this is a continuing struggle in spiritual life. Even St. Francis of Assisi, from the moment he received a message from the Crucified Jesus in the San Damiano chapel “to rebuild his church,” continued on the process of conversion in the events of life till his deathbed. Conversion is a process that starts with the acknowledgement of SIN or WEAKNESS and then moving on with prayer, patience, and perseverance to overcome the SIN or WEAKNESS, not only through one’s effort but also with the help of Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

We need CONVERSION to become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. Hear the insight of St. Paul: “Time is running out.” The time is NOW! REPENT and BE FAITHFUL TO JESUS CHRIST.

About Fr. Serge and his reflections.