The call to repent and live a fuller life
1st Sunday of Lent B (Mark 1:12-15)
Migrants’ Sunday, February 18, 2018
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
LENT isa long journey with a clear purpose and a wonderful destination: sharing in the life of grace, the fruit of Christ’s passion and resurrection. It is a quest for a fuller life, or—for those who have lost God’s grace—a repentance reaching out toward a renewed experience of God’s friendship.
In order to achieve such a purpose, we need to be properly guided. We all need a wise, knowledgeable, and trustworthy guide. People setting out on a journey in unfamiliar regions feel the need for maps and a guide – someone who knows the way and can lead the travelers safe and sound to their destination.
In our effort to regain or experience more fully the vibrant life of divine grace, we Christians can find no better guide than the WORD OF GOD, but especially the Gospel.
Many books written by great writers and novelists may be more attractive in their typographical presentation; more intriguing in their plots and sparkling in their language. But no piece of literature can match the truthfulness and perennial relevance of the Gospel. Wrapped in the simple words of men who lived almost twenty centuries ago, the Gospel contains a message which is the Word of God, the Word of Christ, the Man of the Good News, our Way, our Truth, our Life.
This Lent will be a golden opportunity for us to get acquainted with the content of the Gospel and listen to its heartening message. We can do so individually or with the other members of our family, group, class, or community. That will be the first stage in our becoming disciples of the Lord.
But reading it will not suffice. We shall have to assimilate its spirit through a work of prayerful reflection and internalization. We should also be constantly open to the action of the Spirit, who is at work in us through the teaching of the Church, as well as in the “signs of the times” and the experiences and insights of communities and individuals. This is the second stage of discipleship.
The Gospel, as the divinely inspired guide, deserves to be trusted to the full for it bears the hallmark of truth on every page. Its author is no apprentice; its authentic interpreter, no amateur.
The Gospel also bears the hallmark of life, not only in the sense that it promises and leads to eternal life, but also in the sense that its truth has to become part of our life. We are expected to live out its message consistently, constantly, and bravely—the third stage in a life of discipleship. The Gospel, more than any other trusted guide, has to be obeyed at all times. All this is not easy. Often, it may demand that we change our way of thinking, or the way we relate to God and others. It may demand a radical and constant conversion. Such is the spirit of Lent. Such is the call of Christ, addressed to each one of us, today. Such is the cost of discipleship!