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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

WHY JESUS CAME: Repent and Believe in the Good News

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jan. 25, 2014
Saints Peter & Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ

"Repent! And believe in the Gospel!" (Mark 1:15) 

Our Lord's ministry begins in today’s Gospel passage (Mark 1:14-20). These passages help us to reflect on the mission of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church.

“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.” (Mark 1:14-15)

These three short sentences  were the first words that came out of our Lord’s mouth in Mark's Gospel. 

Therefore, these words -- highly significant in light of Our Lord's ministry -- emphasize His missionary statement, His purpose in coming to earth.  

Throughout the Gospels we hear that our Lord did many great things while He was on earth. He healed the sick… He showed love to the poor… He performed miracles… Yet, today’s Gospel passage reminds us that, although our Lord did many great acts of mercy, these acts were not the primary goal of our Lord’s mission. 

The healing and forgiveness that our Lord displayed on earth demonstrated who He is. It revealed that God had come among us. But the fundamental reason why our Lord came to earth was to lead souls to heaven, to free us from the slavery of sin! And He has handed on this mission to our Church until He comes again. 

My brothers and sisters, our Church was given to us by Christ in order to lead souls to salvation. This is why our Lord established His Church! We come to Mass to begin to live holy lives. 

The world will never understand us, because we are not a church of the world's values. This is why the world keeps trying to influence the Catholic Church toward immorality and lies.  We are a Church that follows the laws of God, and we stay true to the truth taught by the apostles of Jesus Christ. This is why our Church has unchanging doctrines. These are our treasures. These are the pearl of great price. 

Our Church is a Church of mercy because it leads people to the truth. If we want to receive salvation, this means that we have to make sacrifices on our part. We have to “deny ourselves” and take up our cross. 

Today the world's message is different. Our culture tells us to indulge, live as we desire, never deny ourselves.  Temptations are everywhere. Immodesty and sex appear on Twitter, television, and can even be seen from the highway because these images are plastered all over billboards. And the message is that these things are good: “Do whatever feels good!”

Avoid temptation. If you have strayed, reconcile with God. God showers His mercy on repentant sinners. Receive God’s love  with a contrite heart.
God is calling us to live His message of repentance. Don't close yourself off from Our Lord’s mercy by pride and arrogance, or by willingly persisting in sinful lifestyles. Our Lord’s mercy is poured abundantly into the lives of the pure of heart and the poor in spirit. His mercy is given to those who acknowledge their sins and come to Him. This is why our Lord has given us the Sacrament of Confession.
Sacrament of Confession 

Today’s first reading is from the Book of Jonah 3:1-5,10. As you may recall, Jonah was sent to preach the message of repentance to Nineveh. Nineveh was a large city that had become wicked. They had turned away from God, and God warned them that it would lead them to destruction. 

So we can learn from this reading that when whole societies  turns its back on God’s laws as we are seeing today, then widespread repentance is required to repair the damage that threatens as a consequence of our actions.  

Our world is in desperate need for repentance and forgiveness of sins. As in the City of Nineveh,  anger, violence, and immorality is taking its toll in the hearts and souls of multitudes of persons on this planet!  “When God saw by their actions how they  turned from their evil way, He (God) repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.” (Jonah 3:10)

This is the response our world needs today! In your hearts, put on sackcloth and ashes!  We must turn to the Lord with cries for pity! 

Ultimately, brothers and sisters, as Saint Paul tells us in the  second reading (1Cor 7:29-31), the world that we live in today is going to be purified. It will be changed. Saint Paul tells us, “The world in its present form is passing away." 

We will live in a new heaven and a new earth where there will be no sin and no death! This is what we are to prepare for now! “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

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