One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

January 23, 2011

For the Third Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Matthew 4:12-23
Isaiah 8:23 to 9:3
1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17

Today’s Gospel shows us the beginning of the public life of the Lord Jesus in the fullness of his manhood.
John the Baptist had been preaching the message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Then the kingdom showed up in the person of the Lord seeking and undergoing the baptism of repentance at the hands of John.
Then, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, as the Gospel says, the Lord did not begin straightaway his “hands-on” public work and preaching, but withdrew into the desert to be alone with the heavenly Father for forty days.
There he prayed, he fasted, and he withstood temptations by which the devil tried to lead the Lord to repent from the mission the Father gave him.
After the forty days, the Lord went to his home in the hills of Galilee, but, as the Gospel says today, he “left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum” on the shore of the lake of Galilee.
There at Capernaum, he started his public mission.
He began preaching the same— word for word— as John the Baptist [Mt. 3:2], as today’s Gospel says [Mt. 4:17].
From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Calling all to repentance, the Lord was seeking to fish them into life in the kingdom of heaven.
Then he also began to sharpen his message of repentance for specific men.
The meaning of “to repent,” in the original language of the Gospel at its word-for-word roots, is “to change mind.”
While everyone else heard the Lord say, “Repent,” a few Galilean fishermen heard him say to them personally, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
For them— Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John— to repent, to change mind, would be to follow the Lord Jesus and to think of themselves as no longer fishing to eat or sell, but as fishing men into the life of the kingdom of heaven.
The Lord would send them to do this new kind of fishing by preaching the same thing that John the Baptist and the Lord himself preached.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
When the day came for the risen Lord to ascend to his throne at the Father’s side, he told his apostles “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations” [Lk. 24:47].
Ten days later, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, their public preaching was born from the “upper room.”
That day, Peter told the thousands of Jewish Pentecost pilgrims in Jerusalem what they should do [Acts 2:38].
Repent, and be baptized every one of you
in the name of Jesus Christ
for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Mark the shift of wording!
It is no longer straightforwardly that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Rather, “at hand” are: the name of Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
To repent, to change mind, as baptized sinners, is to receive the Father’s forgiveness, the Son’s name, and the Holy Spirit’s gift.
The beginning of the Lord’s own preaching, and the beginning of the preaching he gave his Apostolic Church, and thus the beginning of heeding the Lord and his Church is repentance.
It lets us be fished into the kingdom of the life of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
When the Lord Jesus rose from the dead and ascended, leaving his own “hands-on” work and preaching in the hands of his Apostolic Church, the Church, rather than begin straightaway to preach publicly, withdrew for a while into the “upper room” [Acts 1:13], the birthplace and chamber of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
From the Eucharistic Body and Blood of the Son, the Spirit of the Father brings to birth the preaching and works of the Church, calling all nations to a change of mind.
this is my body
given up for you
this is
my blood
shed for you and the many
so that sins may be forgiven

Do this in memory of me.

The Lord is fishing here in the Church, here at this Eucharistic Sacrifice.
Repent, and let him catch you that you may live.

That God Be Glorified in All