March 8, 2020 - Pastor Message04/08/2020
THE YEAR OF DISCIPLESHIP RECONCILIATION “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.’ As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Then they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:14-18).
As we continue our year-long reflection as a parish on the meaning of discipleship, we will reflect during the season of Lent on the connection between discipleship and reconciliation: our reconciliation with God; and our reconciliation with one another. The word “reconcile” literally means “to bring together again”, which means there has been a separation, a rupture that needs to be healed. From the perspective of Christian discipleship, the rupture in need of healing is that in our relationship with God and one another that is caused by our sin.
Reconciliation, the bringing together again of God and us and others who have been driven apart by our sin, is a three -step process: repentance, forgiveness, and atonement. This week we will focus on the first step, repentance. It is no accident that the basic content of the first sermon that Jesus preaches in the Gospel of Mark is that the Kingdom of God is at hand and that our response to that new reality is to repent and believe. It is also no accident that the very next thing that Jesus does in that Gospel is call the first disciples to follow him.
The call to repentance and the call to follow Christ form the necessary foundation for everything else that follows in Christian discipleship. If we would be reconciled with God and others, we must turn away from those things that cause our separation. We must recognize the harm that our sins cause and renounce them. The season of Lent provides us a unique opportunity to do just that. Through our intensified prayer life, we give Christ the chance to shine his light on our lives to show us the darkness in our hearts separating us from God and neighbor. Through our works of charity, we let the love and mercy of God flow through us and remind us of how we should live our whole life. Through our works of penance and selfdenial, we cultivate the inner strength to act on that newfound insight, to cast that darkness of sin out, and to recommit ourselves to love God and neighbor more fully.
That, in a nutshell, is the meaning of Christian discipleship to love God and neighbor and discipleship begins with repentance. Let us take advantage of the Lenten season to engage in much needed repentance to become better and better disciples.
Fr. Marc Stockton