Jesus, though without sin, embodies what it means to repent. He calls us to preach repentance and become the visible and effective sign of what we preach.
Jesus begins his public ministry, proclaiming: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” Without doubt, repentance is an integral part of his preaching.
To repent means to be different or new. Jesus is different. He is from Galilee, from which no prophet supposedly arises. Besides, he comes from Nazareth, which should pique the curiosity of those who wonder if anything good can come from there. And as the definitive prophet, Jesus brings about something new that God promised though the prophets.
To repent means, above all, to change one’s life, thinking, feeling, ways. Those Jesus invites undergo change. Peter and Andrew leave their nets right away and follow him. For their part, James and John leave their father to follow Jesus.
And those Jesus sends do not fulfill their mission in just any way. They do not even do it their way. They carry it out as their Sender instructs them. Their mission depends wholly on him. That is to say, Jesus is the “rule of the mission” (SV.EN XII:110).
To repent is to do so in some concrete ways.
Jesus sends out those he chooses two by two. It goes to show that the mission is a community affair. It further suggests that the missionaries’ witness is believable. That is because there are two witnesses (see Dt 19, 15). Accordingly, in the face of those who reject them, the missionaries of Jesus shake the dust off their feet. That is how they give testimony against those who do not welcome or listen to them.
Essentially, those Jesus sends show that they repent through their detachment from the security enjoyed by those who settle down. Jesus’ missionaries are itinerant preachers, with no sanctuaries they can live off. Jesus lets them take no more than what they need for the journey. They take nothing unnecessary. It is enough that God has blessed them in Christ. That they have little, the availability and trust in God that Jesus wants them to show demands it.
That is because other places await them, so that they can preach there also and drive out demons. They share, of course, in the authority of Jesus, not in that of worldly leaders. These lord it over others, while Jesus serves and heals. The Christian walking stick, then, has nothing to do with being served. Rather, it has to do with serving and giving one’s life as a ransom for others. And this is what the Eucharist is all about.
Lord Jesus, make us a visible and effective sign of what we proclaim, namely, “Repent ….”
15 July 2018
15th Sunday in O.T. (B)
Amos 7, 12-15; Eph 1, 3-14; Mk 6, 7-13
Tags: A Vincentian reading of the Sunday readings, Ross Dizon