LATEST HOMILY
1st SUNDAY of LENT
February 21, 2021

The holy season of Lent affords us a great opportunity to make a fresh start in our pilgrimage towards the kingdom. Every year Christians enter these forty days with the hope of keeping the Lenten fast and abstaining from meat or whatever else they have pledge to do. These goals are surely a part of the season, but the forty days of Lent provides us with many opportunities to see the bigger picture of what we are to become. The opening prayer of today’s mass points us in the direction we are to look “Grant, almighty God, through the yearly observances of holy Lent, that we may grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ…” this summarizes in a beautiful way how we are to understand this season. We must reflect on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and from that reflection the joy of our salvation must be expressed in our lives.

May we move forward following the words of Jesus in today’s gospel as he comes to Galilee. First, the ‘time of fulfillment’ is linked to the ‘kingdom which is at hand’.  It means to recall Israelites to their history, which has a central theme of God’s persevering love for his recalcitrant people, and an assurance that ‘a future time will come when He will establish His kingdom’. And so, what we do this Lent is about us preparing ourselves to enter the kingdom. 

Second, the call to repentance is the logical precedent of entering into union with God, i.e. entering into the kingdom.  This call to repentance is the mission or task given to Jesus by his Father; it is this call which he has come to understand as his purpose in life while he was 40 days in the silence and prayer of the desert.  We must understand, therefore, that, Jesus will be bent on one thing: the call to repentance; he can do no better for Israel and for us. 

Third, Jesus’s call to ‘believe in the Gospel’ refers to two moments.  First, the gospel, or ‘good news’, is an Old Testament term meant to enliven, encourage and give joy.  The Old Testament good news is God’s return to Israel after His anger with her for breaking her covenant with Yahweh.  The prophets of the Old Testament spoke glowingly of the ‘good news’ that is to come to Israel, and now Jesus, having said that the kingdom is at hand, asks for faith that God indeed will bring this time of reconciliation and happiness.  Second, taking into account that we are reading Mark’s Gospel in about 70AD, Christians have a fuller, more wonderful understanding of the ‘good news’.  The good news is what God has done in Christ.  If the Old Testament foresaw Jesus, it did so vaguely; Christians of Rome, in 70AD, now see the full truth, the full expression of God’s love.  Thus, we are asked to understand ‘gospel’ in the fuller sense, to deepen belief in Jesus, and not just that God will bring His kingdom.  Truly, Jesus offered reasons for seeing God in himself: his miracles, his teaching, his holiness.  But then there will be the cross!  

We Christians in the 21st century must now see the cross as the doorway to the kingdom. Like Jesus we must take up our cross and follow Jesus to Calvary aware that Calvary leads to the resurrection and our salvation.      


 

 

 

For comments and suggestions: Sacred Heart Catholic Church Web Team
Updated: February 21, 2021

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