Repent & Believe

After Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, and John’s subsequent arrest by King Herod, Jesus began his active ministry by calling his first disciples and proclaiming the immanence of his Kingdom. The Gospel of Mark tells us that “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.’” (NAB, MK 1:14-15) The Kingdom of God is continuing to be revealed ever since Christ’s Passion, and this Kingdom will eventually be handed over in glory to the Father by Jesus himself. The Kingdom is the complete fulfillment of the Gospel that began at the Last Supper, the eternal sacrificial banquet that calls all of God’s people to unity.

It is through the continuous unfolding and revelation of the Kingdom where we act to do the Will of God. We pray daily, “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” We cooperate in the coming of Christ’s Kingdom as we unite ourselves to the will of the Father, as we unite ourselves to his Son, Jesus Christ. It is in this singularity of will, this singularity of love, that Christ is made known to humanity. Through repentance from our sins and belief in the Gospel, the Holy Spirit dwells within us through the richness of God’s grace. We are made Temples of God, and the power of the Spirit lives in us as we participate in his Kingdom. St. Paul reminds us, “The Kingdom of God [is] righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (ROM 14:17)

Lord, I am called to be your disciple, your faithful follower. Allow me to seek and know your will, to unite my will with yours, and to live my life now in your Kingdom, where righteousness, peace, and joy prevail. Give me grace to truly repent of my sins, to be purified, and to ever more believe the Good News of your Son and my Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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The Spirit Dwelling Within

We may have heard the phrase that “Christians live in the world, but are not of the world.” While it is true that we are temples of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of God dwells in each of us, the world is occupied and oftentimes driven by the Evil One, the spirit of darkness and death. We are nevertheless assured of God’s presence in us, however, as John tells us in his letter: “Those who keep [God’s] commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit whom he gave us. You belong to God, children, and you have conquered [the Evil One], for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.” (NAB, 1JN 3:24, 4:4, 6)

We have nothing to fear in this world as we are members of the Body of Christ, the same Christ who conquered death and sin. There is nothing in this world that is more powerful than the love and grace of God, and we, as children of the Father, have the freedom to live according to the Law of Love, for we have received by faith, through grace, the indwelling eternal Spirit of God. In the words of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come … on earth as it is in Heaven.” We bring about the Kingdom of God in this world as we live virtuously, by loving God and our neighbor through the faith we have received and in the hope of eternal life in the perfection of that same Kingdom in Heaven.

When I am frightened or challenged by the spirits of this world, give me confidence and strength to turn to you, Lord, realizing and remembering that you have already defeated the Evil One, his offer of sin, and the consequence of death. I am a child of the Kingdom; I am a child of God, and the Spirit that dwells in me is greater than any spirit in this world. Allow me to be a light in this world of darkness and despair, where sin seems to abound, to make known your love in all that I do. “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done.”  Amen.

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The Kingdom Among You

When Jesus is asked when the Kingdom of God will come, he responds, “The Kingdom of God is among you.” He answers their question of “when” with a response of “where.” Why?

What the Pharisees failed to see is that Jesus is himself the King. The Kingdom of God is present whenever and wherever Jesus is. Understanding this idea is important to cooperate with the ongoing revelation of God’s Kingdom in our world today. Each time we pray the Our Father, we recite the words, “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” We continuously pray that God’s Kingdom be revealed in our world through the presence of Christ in us and in our world. We will one day experience that Kingdom in its fullness, but until then we must continue to cooperate with God’s grace to bring about that reality as it is revealed according to his will.

Lord, Jesus Christ, help me to realize your presence in me, in others, and in my world, so that, with your grace, I may truly mean the words, “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” May I begin to see your Heavenly reality revealed by you in my life, according to your will and for your glory, until that day when I am welcomed into your Eternal Banquet. Amen.

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Everything is Nothing

Saint Paul had everything. He was well-respected and highly educated. He had a pristine family lineage. By all accounts, he was an outstanding and faithful, practicing Jew. He had social status as well. In his letter to the Philippians (3:5-6), St. Paul writes, “If anyone else thinks he can be confident in the flesh, all the more can I. Circumcised on the eighth day, of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrew parentage, in observance of the law a Pharisee, in zeal I persecuted the Church, in righteousness based on the law I was blameless.”

St. Paul realizes, however, that even though he had possessed many things, had worked his way to the top, and enjoyed power and prestige and the admiration of others, that all of this is nothing when compared to his relationship with Jesus Christ. He says, “But whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ. More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (PHIL 3:7-8)

Are we still seeking the things of this world? Are we still hoping that power, prestige, wealth, and physical excess will bring us fulfillment in our lives? All that we see in our world as “good” is nothing compared to the one who IS Goodness itself, Jesus Christ. We oftentimes try to fill our lives with these lesser gains, materialism and things that stroke our egos, but in the end, nothing will ultimately satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts, except the Lord. Father, help us to first seek you and the fulfillment of your kingdom. Help us to make that our priority, so that everything else in our world that reflects your goodness, will be held in proper perspective and not become a replacement or substitute for our true Joy, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Accept the Invitation

In today’s Gospel from St. Luke (14:15-24), we are presented with the story of a wealthy man who has invited many guests from the local community to attend a great banquet, an incredible feast, at his home. But, in today’s story, when the moment of truth arrived and the meal prepared, those who had been asked to attend, refused to come, and they “began to excuse themselves.” (14:18) The specific reasons given for not attending were historically sufficient even to avoid participating in a holy war, according the Jewish Law. These were, by all accounts, extremely well-justified reasons for not accepting the invitation. Jesus points out, however, that this is no ordinary summons.

Jesus uses this parable to make an analogy of our invitation to follow him, to dine with him, and to bring about his Kingdom. We are invited to the Paschal Meal, the Supper of the Lamb, to receive our Lord and Savior, so that our lives may be transformed to bring about the Kingdom of God. Jesus invites us to the Eternal Banquet, yet we allow the passing things of this world to keep us from accepting.

What are we waiting for? What is holding us back? What are our reasons for not responding to the invitation? Lord, free me from my attachments and release me from my excuses. May I seek you and your kingdom first, and so give you glory and honor in all that I do, every day of my life. Amen.

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