“The community of the saints is not an "ideal" community consisting of perfect and sinless men and women, where there is no need of further repentance. No, it is a community which proves that it is worthy of the gospel of forgiveness by constantly and sincerely proclaiming God's forgiveness...Sanctification means driving out the world from the Church as well as separating the Church from the world. But the purpose of such discipline is not to establish a community of the perfect, but a community consisting of men who really live under the forgiving mercy of God.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer (German Lutheran pastor and anti-Nazi dissident who was executed by hanging on April 9, 1945 as the Nazi regime collapsed)
Gospel Text: (MK 1:14-20)
After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.
When I was younger I remember being afraid of the word repent. It was associated with dire consequences. I was sure there was a trick question involved and I worried that I would not know that I was not in God’s favor. Now as I look at the definition of repent: to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life, I have a different view. I trust in God’s love for me and I believe God wants me to make the right choices. God is always speaking and I simply need to listen and trust in his ways. I also feel God’s compassion when I fall short in my efforts.
The fact of the matter is, we all struggle with our call, which we got through our Baptism, as we move along our journey of faith. There are times when we don't understand. But God comes back to us in the most unexpected ways; He uses us for others in the most unexpected ways. What God needs is not our ability, but our availability. What Jesus teaches His disciples is not a course of study, but a way of life to follow.
So as we all enjoy our Sunday afternoon ask yourself a few questions in prayer: What habits do I have that call for me to repent and turn toward God? When am I motivated by ego or selfishness? How can I become a more generous and loving person? How can I be more open to God’s loving guidance to help me use my gifts and talents in service to my community?