ISAIAH 50:5-9A JAMES 2:14-18 MARK 8:27-35
We witness quite a scene as we observe Jesus and his disciples journeying to Caesarea Philippi. As the group walks along Jesus throws out a question to them: “Who do people say that I am?”
The answers that came back were quite interesting. Someone said that people thought that Jesus might be John the Baptist returned from the dead. Another reported that Jesus might be the prophet Elijah returning to give witness to the arrival of the Messianic time. These comments attested to the fact that Jesus was well-respected. People felt he was sent by God but weren’t yet convinced that he was the Messiah.
In the course of the interchange Peter chimed in with a clear and strong proclamation: “You are the Christ!” But almost immediately it became clear that Peter’s understanding of the role of the Christ was very different from Jesus’. Peter held the Jewish understanding that the Messiah would be a strong, charismatic figure who would conquer Israel’s enemies and inaugurate a golden age for Israel.
Jesus, impressed by Peter’s response, went on to reveal to the group what fate awaited the Christ. “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise in three days.”
Peter didn’t take this bit of information very well. He pulled Jesus aside to reprimand him for saying such things. Jesus wouldn’t let Pe-
ter’s comment go unaddressed. He called the attention of everyone around him. He must have left the group in a state of shock when he formally announced, “Whoever wishes to follow me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”
Well, so much for the advent of the Golden Age! Jesus even called Peter a tempter, a satan, for bucking God’s plan for the Christ, and asked him to get back in step with him and his mission. “Get behind me, satan!”
So, we observe this pivotal moment in Jesus’ life, the life of his disciples and all who will come after them. The Messianic time arrived with the appearance of Jesus but it exists in a way that no one could have imagined. It isn’t a time of power and glory for the chosen few. Rather, it’s an on-going radical invitation to every human being to commit themselves to a life of dedication to others. Jesus’ life will forever stand as the example of this new way of living. It’s living the paschal mystery, the mystery of personal death and resurrection. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
We can end this reflection by asking ourselves some very serious questions. How do I live a life focused on others, not myself? Do I recognize in my self-giving the spark of the Messianic time? Finally, what do I mean when I pray, “Thy Kingdome come?”
ISAIAH 35:4-7A JAMES 2:1-5 MARK 7:31-37
We begin our reflection with the prophet Isaiah’s description of the messianic time. He makes this prophecy in the form of a poetic canticle, directing it to “those whose hearts are frightened.” He assures them that God’s divine recompense will save them. He then paints a verbal picture of the new world God will create for them – the Messianic time. “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.”
This poetic style, the canticle, is used several times in the Jewish and Christian scriptures. It jumps from a particularly powerful moment in the present to an even greater vision of the new world to come. In Luke’s Gospel, Mary breaks into similar poetry. When she visits Elizabeth, she proclaims to her that the Almighty “has shown the strength of his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.” She’s describing the time when justice for the poor will triumph – the Messianic time.
In today’s Gospel passage from Mark, the poetic language of the canticle is replaced by a real moment in the Messianic time. Jesus is asked to cure a deaf man with a speech impediment. This cure more than mirrors Isaiah’s prophecy: “the ears of the deaf (will) be cleared…then the tongue of the mute will sing.” It’s a proclamation of the the arrival of the Messianic time in the person of Jesus. Mark notes the reaction of the people. “They were exceedingly astonished and they said, ‘He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the
mute speak.’” This comment reminds us of the story of the creation when, after each day of creating, God said, “And it was good.” In this short passage, Mark is announcing that Jesus is the Messiah, and that the first moments of a new world have dawned.
These Messianic passages often leave us somewhat frustrated. It almost seems that the sacred writers are teasing us. They get us to look to a perfect and beautiful world. And sometimes, as Mark does to us today, tell us that the new world, the Messianic time, has already begun!
This passage reveals a tension that we Christians live with. Week after week, we reflect on Jesus’ healing, miracles and teachings. Each week, in one way or another, we hear Jesus say, “The kingdom of God is here.” Yet, each week we witness just the opposite: violence, injustice, greed, persecution, intolerance in our country and throughout the world. This tension between hope and a suffering human family is an important component of our vocation as Christians. We live with the pain we feel for others while never giving up hope.
Those who are suffering may give up hope, so it’s imperative that we carry it for them. We keep our eyes fixed on the new world, the kingdom of God. But as we do so, we feel their pain all the more. We mustn’t be surprised by this. When we carry the burden of hope for those who are hopeless, their suffering comes to life within us. This is our vocation, to carry the burden of hope. We look at Jesus, crucified and powerless. We listen to him promise paradise to the man crucified with him, and we believe, with the deepest conviction, that the kingdom of God is at hand.
DEUTERONOMY 4:1-2,6-8 JAMES 1:1-8, 21B-22 MARK 7:1-8, 14-15
The readings today are about commandments. The passage from Deuteronomy is a simple plea. Moses is giving his last instruction before the people pass over into the Promised Land. He reminds them of the commandments God gave them and encourages them to follow them closely. “You shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it.” These commandments are to become the legal foundation of a new nation. They can be found in the book of Exodus, chapters 20 thru 24. In scope, these commandments extend way beyond the traditional ten. If you read these chapters you’ll see that they can clearly stand as a nation’s constitution, as its foundation for law and order. These laws united and transformed the twelve tribes. As Moses notes in his concluding remark, “What great nation has statutes and decrees that are as just as this whole law which I am setting before you today?”
Our second reading, from the letter of James, reflects on the gift God has planted in our hearts. This is referring to the law. James exhorts his readers to not merely pay lip service to the law, but to move from the dictates of the law to positive action towards the needy. He enjoins the reader “to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” In other words, these laws, placed in our hearts, are meant to make the world a better place.
In the gospel passage Jesus addresses the corrupting of the law. The Pharisees and some scribes have been closely monitoring Jesus and his disciples. “They observed that some of his disciples, ate their meals with unclean, that is unwashed hands.” When they pounced on this infraction of the law, Jesus’ response was swift and unequivocal.“Well did Isaiah prophecy about you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from
me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.’”
This was a slap in the face of the religious leaders. They had placed the law under a microscope and identified every possible nuance of every law. Washing ones’ hands before eating is a matter of simple hygiene. The Pharisees made it a religious obligation. Ignoring this obligation was a sin in their eyes!
Jesus then moved his focus from the Pharisees and scribes. He declared to the crowd that nothing they ate or touched could make them unclean; only an unclean heart could make a person unclean. He then enumerated what hearts can spawn that makes people unclean to the world around them: “evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, licentiousness, blasphemy, arrogance, and folly.”
What can we learn from this scene? Jesus is teaching us to avoid interpreting divinely given commandments in a negative way – don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t be unchaste. He is inviting his disciples to stress the positive aspects of the commandments – be generous to the poor, help make the lives of others better, respect the body, yours and others, be positive and productive in your relationships, personal and business, try to build a solid and loving relationship with God.
Here’s some homework for you. Read chapters 20 thru 26 Exodus, Moses giving the commandments. Then read chapters 5 thru 7 in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus giving the beatitudes. A span of a thousand years of religious evolution separates these two documents. Can you see the evolution? Do you understand Jesus’ mission better by comparing the two? I’ll conclude with one additional thought that you might find helpful for your reflection. Moses was preparing the people to enter the Promised Land. Jesus was preparing the people for the Kingdom of God.
JOSHUA 21:1-2A, 15-17 EPHESIANS 5:21-32 JOHN 6:60-69
We’ve been reading sections of the sixth chapter of John’s gospel since July 25th. We paused last Sunday to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption. This Sunday we conclude the “Bread of Life Discourse” by reflecting on the peoples’ reaction to what Jesus taught.
Jesus delivered this discourse in the synagogue at Capernaum, a city along the Sea of Galilee. This area was quite liberal and open to new ideas. The synagogue, the town’s community center, would periodically invite speakers of interest to address the community. Jesus, though from Galilee, would have been of interest to the people. He seemed to have a fresh, new approach to Judaism often putting him in open conflict with the religious leaders. The synagogue provided a good forum for the people to hear what he had to say. But the audience ended up struggling with his message.
Recall some of his statements from this teaching: “I am the living bread come down from heaven, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you do not have life within you.” “The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” Acceptance of this teaching required more than intellectual understanding. It required faith.
Today’s first scripture reading from the Book of Joshua parallels this moment in the synagogue. The children of Israel were nearing the Promised Land. Joshua camped at Shechem and demanded a profession of faith
from the people before they continued on. They would be coming into contact with foreign religions. Joshua challenged the people to make a profession of faith to the God of their ancestors before they moved on. The people recalled how God protected and cared for them throughout their journey, and so renewed their faith in the God who delivered them from the land of slavery.
In the synagogue in Capernaum Jesus was challenging the people there, and his disciples, to take a leap of faith. He had presented himself as the fulfillment of the Passover. God had sent him to be the new and eternal paschal lamb, slain for the redemption of the world, and eaten as life-giving bread. He wasn’t asking them to totally understand the paschal mystery. He was inviting them to begin a new journey of faith. Many couldn’t take that step. But then Peter stepped forward and spoke for the faithful few. “You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
As we conclude our lengthy reflection on the Bread of Life Discourse we’re faced with a similar choice. We have to ask ourselves if we really believe in him and what he teaches about himself. Do we believe that when we celebrate the Eucharist he’s with us in the flesh as the living Lamb sacrificed for our redemption? Do we believe that he’s the bread of life for us and the world? Do we believe that he is the food for eternal life?
REVELATION 11:19A, 12:1-6A 1 CORINTHIANS 15:20-27 LUKE 1:39-56
The feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven celebrates much more than Mary being taken bodily to heaven. This feast speaks hope to a suffering Church locked in a life and death conflict with the world. Let’s reflect on this aspect of the feast by focusing on the passage from the Book of Revelation that we’ve read today.
We see a cosmic image: a woman, clothed with the sun, and the moon at her feet. Wearing a crown adorned with 12 stars, she’s the image of the Church crowned as the glory of the Israel and its 12 tribes, and as the New Israel built upon the 12 apostles of the Lamb. The child about to be born is the Christ and his Kingdom, “destined to rule over all the nations.”
A second image appears, a red dragon with 7 crowned heads and 10 horns. This is the dark, brutal, powerful energy which is anti-Christ. At the time this was written the dragon was Rome using its power to prevent the birth of the Kingdom. Today, that same dragon takes the form of hostile governments, powerful global corporations, and misguided religious demagogues.
The Second Vatican Council crowned Mary, the Mother of the Church. This title firmly placed her in the upper room with the apostles and disciples waiting for the fire of the Paraclete, and the coming of the Kingdom. Today we look at this image of the woman clothed with the sun with the moon at her feet and see Mary, the mother of the Church inspiring hope and strength as we resist all that’s antiChrist. Today we’re the disciples joining Mary in the upper room awaiting the birth of the Kingdom of God.
Mother of the Church,
the Lord is with you and with his faithful people.
Bless us, as you blessed the early disciples with courage, hope and joy.
Give strength to our faith as we wait in anticipation of the new world, the Kingdom of God.
1 KINGS 19:4-8 EPHESIANS 4:30-5:2 JOHN 6:41-51
This week we’re going to focus our reflection on one sentence from John’s Gospel. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
John wrote his Gospel between 90 AD and 100 AD. It’s very different from the three other Gospels. One very notable difference is the account of the Last Supper. In John’s Gospel Jesus doesn’t take bread and wine and say, “This is my body,” This is my blood.” Instead, he delivers a lengthy teaching culminating with his washing the feet of the disciples. It’s in chapter six of his Gospel that we’re presented with Jesus’ teaching about the Eucharist. In this chapter he never mentions “This is my body,” “This is my blood.” Instead, he delivers what has become to be known as the Bread of Life Discourse, which culminates in the sentence I noted at the beginning of this reflection. Let’s unpack the meaning of this beautiful and powerful teaching.
Jesus teaches that he’s “the living bread that came down from heaven.” This is a reference to the exodus journey. God fed the people with manna, “the bread from heaven.” This bread was a pledge of God’s loving care for the children of Israel and their food during their journey to the Promised Land. Jesus applied this image to himself re-defining the bread from heaven. It isn’t bread that fills a hungry stomach. He, himself, is the food for life’s journey. He, himself, is LIVING bread. Jesus intensifies this powerful image even more by stressing: “the bread that I will give is MY FLESH for the life of the world.”
In John’s Gospel, the Last Supper takes place the day before the Passover when, as
Mark’s Gospel tells us, “they sacrificed the Passover Lamb.” (Mark 14:12) This is implying that Jesus is the true Passover Lamb, whose sacrifice will bring life to the entire world. In the context of this teaching, we mustn’t forget that the Passover Lamb was not only to be slain, it was to be eaten. Jesus reinforced this when he said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” The implications of this teaching are astounding.
Over and over again during the Eucharistic Liturgy we hear the term the Paschal Mystery. The Bread of Life Discourse defines this mystery. It takes the image of the Passover Lamb, slaughtered and eaten, and applies it to the person of Jesus. We’ve all heard the statement: “You are what you eat.” In the Eucharistic celebration we proclaim the death of the Lord – his sacrifice on the cross-AND we eat his flesh and drink his blood in the Eucharistic bread and wine. This is the fulfillment of the first Passover.
Jesus is the true and eternal Passover Lamb, sacrificed and eaten by those who believe in him. Our communion with him unites us in communion with the Father, also. By eating his flesh and drinking his blood we become him, and he becomes us.
Let’s conclude this reflection by adding one more level to this mystery. We must always be mindful of our vocation as believers. Christ continues to mold the world into the kingdom of God through the work of his disciples who remain in communion with him. Let’s never forget his teaching in Matthew 10:40: “Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes him who sent me.”
EXODUS 16:2-4,12-15 EPHESIANS 4:17-20-24 JOHN 6:6-24, 35
Let’s begin our reflection today by looking at the first reading for the day, a passage from the book of Exodus. The people were getting desperate because they had no food. God reassured both Moses and the people of his unfailing commitment to them.
God had proved his loyalty to them throughout their journey. He fed them with manna in the morning, and in the evening with quail. At one point there was no water, so God told Moses to strike a rock. Water gushed forth.
The children of Israel had a special place in God’s heart, but they struggled with that relationship. During their forty-year sojourn in desert they would be challenged to submit totally to God. For this relationship to blossom they would have to acknowledge their ultimate powerlessness.
In the gospel passage we see a similar situation. Jesus had just fed five thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish. He then left the people and sailed to Capernaum. Excited by this miracle, the people got into boats and followed him.
Jesus intuited that they still hadn’t understood the meaning of the event. So, he tried to clarify it for them. “You are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but the food that endures for eternal life.” They retorted by recalling that Moses had given them bread from heaven. Jesus came back at them.
“It was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Still not understanding. Still thinking only of food for their stomachs, they pleaded with him: “Give us this bread always.” He was offering them another bread, the bread of life, but they lacked the faith to receive it. They had to open their hearts to eat this bread, not their mouths. He shared a final teaching with them. “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
What can we learn from these readings? To accept the bread of life, we first have to empty our hearts of our human desires. We need to submit to God. We need to acknowledge our powerlessness and rejoice in our total dependence on God. Only then will we come to recognize the profound hunger we have for God. Only then, can God satiate that hunger with the bread from heaven, his very life. Only then can we become like him. Only then can we see him as he is. Only then can we say with Saint Paul, “I no longer live; Christ lives in me.”
2 KING 4:42-44 EPHESIANS 4:1-6 MARK 6:1-15
“Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.” This is the simple introduction to the extraordinary event that’s about to unfold. In the bible, the mountain is the place where heaven intersects with earth. Moses climbed Mount Sinai to receive the commandments from God. Jesus went up a mountain to deliver the new commandments, the beatitudes. Peter, James and John witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration atop Mount Tabor. Now, on this mountain, the disciples will experience a moment in the kingdom of God.
Jesus looked out at the large crowd. He not only saw the people, he saw their inner longings – their hungers. He turned to his inner circle of apostles with a challenging question. “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” No one had any answer to the question except a boy who had five barley loaves and two fish. He offered them to feed the crowd. Was this naiveté or faith? Let’s think about this boy for a moment.
It was common practice for people to carry food with them when they traveled. They usually carried it in a sack they slung over their shoulder. This boy was carrying five barley loaves, the bread that the poor would ordinarily eat, and two fish. Although he was poor, he gave away all the food that he had. John, the gospel writer, wanted to make clear that this was a kingdom event, and that this boy, by giving away all that he had, was opening the door to the kingdom. The boy’s example was a reminder for the disciples that unless they became like little child, they would not experience the kingdom of God.
Jesus had the crowd recline on the “great deal of grass in that place.” This detail is referencing the “green pastures” of Psalm 23 where God sets a table, anoints the guests with oil and pours wine until their cups overflow. The people were told to recline on the grass as they were obliged to recline during the Passover Seder. Reclining, as opposed to sitting in a chair, was a sign of wealth and freedom. Jesus was readying the people for the fulfillment of the Passover that would be realized in the banquet in the kingdom of God.
Jesus said the blessing and distributed the five barley loaves and two fish to the crowd of five thousand. Everyone ate. Everyone was filled. Twelve baskets of food were left over. If five loaves and two fish could feed five thousand, how many more thousands could be fed from the twelve baskets of leftovers?!
This miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish is repeated each time we gather for the Lord’s Supper. At the Eucharist we celebrate God spreads a banquet table before us. We’re not fed with earthly food, however; we’re fed with the Bread of Life, the bread of the kingdom.
So, come to the Eucharist with the spirit of a little child. Offer to God everything you have, your five loaves and two fish. Let the Lord feed your inner hunger. Let the Lord free your spirit. Permit your soul to rest. Recline on the green grass of the kingdom of God.
JEREMIAH 23:1-6 EPHESIANS 2:13-18 MARK 6:30-34
In last Sunday’s gospel Jesus had given the apostles authority over unclean spirits and commissioned them to preach. “So, they went off and preached repentance. They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” In today’s gospel passage, the apostles had just returned from what proved to have be a very successful missionary excursion. They were tremendously excited but had trouble sharing their experiences because “people were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat.”
Like a mother hen caring for her chicks, Jesus hustled them on to a boat to retreat to a favorite hideaway of theirs for some peace and quiet. It was a shock to them that the people guessed where they were going and were waiting for them on the shore along with many others they had picked up as they walked there. The only peace and quiet that the disciples managed to get was during the boat trip across the lake.
When Jesus saw “the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them; for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.” The lessons gleaned from this first missionary experience weren’t over yet. In fact, they had just begun.
There wasn’t any time for rest. The people weren’t at peace. Their spirits weren’t at rest. Immediately, Jesus reached out and touched their hearts with his teaching.
Did the apostles realize that, in his response to the crowd, Jesus was teaching them, too? Did they realize that the “Jesus ministry” would demand that they pour themselves out “like a libation?” Did they realize that mere words would never be able to satisfy the deep hunger of the people? Did they realize that they would have to place their entire lives in the hands of God before they could respond to the needs of this crowd? Not yet. First, they would have to look helplessly at the crowd of five thousand as Jesus’ command echoed in their ears. “Give them some food yourselves.”
Jesus, I offer my life to you.
I give you my all, my strengths and my weaknesses.
Use me to continue your ministry
to satisfy the hungers of the human family.
AMOS 7:12-15 EPHESIANS 1:3-14 MARK 6:78-13
We have a very interesting passage to think about today. It consists of a series of instructions that Jesus gave his twelve apostles before he sent them out on their first missionary excursion. Let’s look at the details and then see what their implications are for these early missionaries and us.
“Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.” Why would Jesus send them out in pairs?
In Jewish tradition two witnesses were needed to convict a person of a crime. In our tradition the presence of two witnesses are needed to legalize a wedding. These men were to be witnesses of the coming kingdom of God. The power of two is much greater than the power of one.
To strengthen their witness Jesus gave them the authority over unclean spirits. In addition to the proclamation of the kingdom the Twelve were armed with proof that the kingdom was coming; the children of the kingdom had power over unclean spirits.
“He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick – no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.” What did the ordinary person wear in Jesus’ day, and why did Jesus think it necessary to specify the clothing the Twelve were to wear?
The basic garb for men and women was the tunic. It was made from a piece of cloth that was folded in half and sewn on one side. Holes were cut for the arms to go through. No hole was cut for the head. This would prove to the buyer that it had never been used but also allowed the new owner to make an appropriately sized hole for his/her head to fit through
propriately sized hole for his/her head to fit through. The neckline was therefore totally left to the discretion of the purchaser. A woman, for example, might want a low-cut neckline if she was nursing a baby.
The outer garment was something like a poncho. It was a large piece of cloth, six to seven feet wide and eight to nine feet long. It could be two pieces of cloth sewn together or one large piece, as was the case with Jesus’ cloak that the soldiers gambled for at the foot of the cross. The outer garment was used as a cloak by day and a blanket at night.
A girdle, or belt, was fastened around the waist over the tunic and outer garment giving the wearer the ability to alter the length of the garments as needed.
A kind of sack was worn over the shoulder. It could be large enough to carry food and essentials that a traveler might need. It could also be used as a money pouch. These money pouches were commonly used by traveling missionaries to carry the donations they picked up during their travels.
So, what was Jesus telling the Twelve by spelling out how they should dress? He was telling them that they must rely totally on God. They should travel without a back-up of food or clothing or money. They were to depend totally God and on the generosity of the people who would hear and accept their message.
He was also saying something about the attitude the Twelve should have when they enter someone’s home. It was rabbinic law that when people entered the courts in the temple they had to leave their staff, sandals and money bag outside. Here Jesus is saying that the home that accepts his message is a place as sacred as the temple.
“He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. What place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.’”
Here, Jesus is directing his missionaries to be the catalysts of a new community. By staying in one home they could gently make the place a center for future instruction. When they left, their hosts could continue what they began or, at least, be a place from which future missionaries could preach.
His instruction to shake the dust of the town off their feet if they weren’t accepted there would have been a bit shocking for the Twelve to hear. Rabbinic law said that the dust of a Gentile land was defiled. When Jews had to enter Gentile territory they were obliged to shake off every bit of defiled dust from their feet before entering Jewish territory. In this statement Jesus is comparing Jews who don’t listen to, or accept, the message of the kingdom to the Gentiles who were not among the chosen people.
“So, they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.”
Here we discover the message of the Twelve’s preaching: repentance. The word used in the scripture is metanoia. It doesn’t mean simply admitting wrongs done in the past and making the commitment not to repeat them. It means changing the entire direction of one’s life. It means becoming a new person, one who sees differently, thinks differently, relates differently. It means taking on the attitude of the disciple who depends totally on God. It means committing to a new community – a kingdom community. It means freeing people from their demons. It means not accepting this world and its values as our only alternative. It means becoming a new person, a new people, in the kingdom of God.
Jesus’ instruction to the Twelve applies to each one of us. This week we’re asked to question our own discipleship. To what degree do I place my trust in God? How do I share my faith? Do I believe that I have been given a role to play in the kingdom of God? Am I open to hearing Jesus’ call for personal and communal repentance? Do I hear Jesus’ invitation to be his missionary?