“From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” This was the message Jesus set off to preach to huge crowds through both his words and his actions of healing people from all around the region.
The good news (literally, “gospel”) is that “the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The bad news (or at least the harder news) is the command to repent. On the other hand, maybe the need to repent isn’t such bad news. Maybe, in fact, this is part of the good news!
Here we are a few days into our New Year’s Resolutions, a more secular version of repenting. Exercise more, eat less, etc. What if we transformed our admirable attempts to improve ourselves at this time of year into prayerful ways to bring us closer to God?
To repent implies not just feeling sorry about something but also being willing to change oneself for the better. Rather than just vowing to exercise more and eat less, perhaps I can repent how I have treated God’s temple that is my body. Exercising more and eating less can then be transformed into a prayerful way to be in right relationship with my body. Any other resolution we may be having trouble keeping can be transformed similarly into prayerful repentance, part of which is committing ourselves to change our behavior. As part of this repentance, this changing ourselves for the Greater Glory of God (to borrow from St. Ignatius), what relationships can we heal? How can we become better informed about injustice around the world? Are there ways for us to become more involved with alleviating poverty and injustice in our local communities?
St. Ignatius counsels us to “find God in all things.” Today may we learn to repent and find God in our yearning for self-improvement and right relationship with everyone and everything around us. If we do so, we will become more like Jesus and recognize the closeness of the “Kingdom of heaven.”
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