Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon F. K. Bartels

1/26/2014 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Jesus precedes his announcement of the kingdom of heaven with a command: Repent.

The immediate response to the gaze of Jesus Christ by Peter, Andrew, James and John signals the fact that a radical change took place within their hearts. That moment, there on the shore of the sea, was no ordinary moment. The fishermen were not simply willing to let go of their way of life and the past, but actively desired to do so. More to the point, they hungered for a new life. They sensed, by God's grace working in their souls, that this new life is itself Jesus Christ.

Highlights

By Deacon F. K. Bartels

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/26/2014 (9 months ago)

Published in Daily Homilies

Keywords: repent, kingdom of heaven, interior conversion, Peter, Andrew, James and John, Deacon F. K. Bartels


GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) -- In this Sunday's gospel (Mt 4:12-23) we learn that, after John had been arrested, Jesus "withdrew to Galilee" and "went to live in Capernaum" (Mt 4:12-13), a land largely inhabited by Gentiles (people of non-Jewish descent). "From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand'" (Mt 4:17).

Indeed, in encountering the Son of God made man, the Person of Jesus Christ, the "people who walked in darkness have seen a great light" (Is 9:1).

When we hear these words in the gospel they should have no less impact on our lives. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," says Jesus Christ to us today. These are joyful and refreshing words of promise, for we desire the kingdom of heaven as a deer that longs for flowing streams (Ps 42:1). We thirst for the kingdom because we are created in order to find fulfillment in eternal communion with God, who is himself our origin, our sustenance and our end. God alone quenches every thirst of the parched human heart. God alone satisfies every desire of the soul. God alone gives eternal life.

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. These words, then, bring far more than simply joy and happiness, as wonderful as these things are. In these words, Jesus calls us to himself, to a new, everlasting life in the kingdom of heaven, a life in which we share in the divine life of God. The words of Jesus are truly words of life.

Further, notice who speaks these words: Jesus Christ. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is not simply an idea; nor is the kingdom a state of mind, for we cannot force our way through its door by engaging in arrogant freethinking or meditative techniques. Not even all the knowledge of the world gains entrance through its long sought gates. The kingdom cannot be conquered, won over by skill or shrewdness or outmaneuvering one's opponents. The kingdom is received only in humility, openness and faith; it becomes a reality upon entering into a dynamic, intimate relationship with a Person: The kingdom of heaven is Jesus Christ.

Entrance Into the Kingdom Presupposes Repentance

Notice also that Jesus Christ precedes his announcement with a command: "Repent." Entrance into the kingdom of heaven presupposes interior conversion and requires of us to go and meet Christ, embrace him and his life, giving of ourselves and turning from our old, sinful ways, that we may return to the Father. In order to do that, we must sincerely acknowledge who we are, what we have done and failed to do, how we have offended God and hurt our neighbor by our sin. It entails a new way of looking at ourselves and our personhood.

Blessed John Paul II wrote in his apostolic exhortation Reconciliation and Penance: "To acknowledge one's sin, indeed--penetrating still more deeply into the consideration of one's own personhood--to recognize oneself as being a sinner, capable of sin and inclined to commit sin, is the essential first step in returning to God" (RAP, 13).

Repentance, for the sinner, is integral to entrance into the kingdom of heaven. One cannot belong to Christ and, at the same time, belong to a life dominated by sin. Repentance, then, is necessary and serious. Further, one cannot belong entirely to others or even to oneself and, at the same time, belong to Christ. To live for Christ is to die to self, to former disordered attachments and to the world. The authentic disciple loses himself in the life and love of his Master. It is necessary to embark on a new way of life and a new way of living, as did Peter and his brother Andrew, James and his brother John when they encountered the gaze of Christ and left their nets by the sea (see Mt 4:18-22).

To repent is to change radically. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (No. 1431) reminds us repentance begins with interior conversion that is itself "a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one's life, with hope in God's mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart)."

The fruits of repentance follow interior conversion. One of these, is making a rigorous and honest assessment of our sins. We examine our conscience carefully, extensively and frequently in prayer, and by using the teaching of the Church, Sacred Tradition and Scripture as guides.

In speaking of examining the conscience, it is important to seek the wise guidance of leaders in the Church, such as is found in the example of the saints and the hierarchy. Pope Francis has a wonderful way of throwing light on various elements of our lives with the aim of providing spiritual guidance. In our Holy Father we have, among other things, perhaps the best spiritual director we could ever hope to find. He is truly a spiritually wise leader whose words illuminate our conscience with plain, easily understandable language that gets right to the heart of the matter.

For example, Pope Francis recently reminded everyone that gossip is a "slap" to Jesus "in the person of his children, his brothers," and "it ruins your soul!"

"When we prefer to gossip," continued Pope Francis, "gossip about others, criticize others--these are everyday things that happen to everyone, including me--these are the temptations of the evil one who does not want the Spirit to come to us and bring about peace and meekness in the Christian community."

Interior conversion manifests itself in outward signs

Interior conversion will become manifest outwardly in visible sings, gestures and works of penance. People will notice that you have changed. Things are different. One of these visible signs is the frequent reception of the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.

Although many Catholics and other Christians today ignore or reject this wonderful sacrament of healing and forgiveness, incorrectly thinking it is unimportant or unnecessary, it is the sacrament Christ himself instituted in order for us to obtain forgiveness. In a word, the sacrament of Reconciliation is God's plan for repentant sinners.

John Paul II had this to say about the sacrament of Reconciliation: "The first conviction is that for a Christian the sacrament of penance is the primary way of obtaining forgiveness and the remission of serious sin committed after baptism.. [I]n the school of faith we learn" that the Savior desired the sacrament of Reconciliation to be the ordinary and "effective means through which his redemptive power passes and operates. It would therefore be foolish, as well as presumptuous, to wish arbitrarily to disregard" this means of grace "which the Lord has provided" and to "claim to receive forgiveness while doing without the sacrament which was instituted by Christ precisely for forgiveness" (RAP, 31).

During his weekly general audience in St. Peter's square, Pope Francis noted that he goes to confession every two weeks.

The Holy Father observed that the world is often dominated by "individualism and subjectivism." Consequently, many Catholics and other Christians think that they have no need of the sacrament of Reconciliation offered through the Church and the ministry of a priest.

"Certainly, God forgives every repentant sinner," said Pope Francis, "but the Christian is bound to Christ and Christ is united to his Church. God, in his sovereign mercy, forgives everyone, but he wanted those who belong to Christ and his Church to receive forgiveness through the community's ministers."

Repentance Is Made Possible Only By God's Grace

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that it is Christ himself calls us to conversion and penance. (CCC 1430). In the first place, it is only by God's grace that we can desire authentic interior conversion and the new life that follows. Here we recognize it is Christ who first gives himself to us-we do not initiate the process of repentance and interior conversion of ourselves nor on our own. Christ offers us his grace (supernatural aid) and even his loving Spirit, whose guidance not only calls us to a new way of living but strengthens, heals and perfects us in order to enable our attainment of such a sublime goal; for our part we respond to these sublime gifts of love through the proper use of human free will.

Think for a moment about the response to the gaze of Jesus by Peter, Andrew, James and John: these four fishermen immediately leave their former lives behind. They would not have left their nets and their livelihood for merely exciting news, for an interesting idea or concept or stimulating promise. Nor would they have left their nets for someone other than Jesus. It is Christ who first called them, changed them, spoke in the depths of their hearts. They responded as they did because of who Christ is.

Their response signals the fact that a radical change took place. That moment, there on the shore of the sea, was no ordinary moment. The fishermen were not simply willing to let go of their way of life and the past, but actively desired to do so. More to the point, they hungered for a new life. They sensed, by God's grace working in their souls, that this new life is itself Jesus Christ.

In their encounter with the Person of Jesus Christ they came face-to-face with the kingdom heaven. Next, they stepped forward.

-----

Deacon Fred Bartels serves the Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado, as a member of the Catholic Clergy. He is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at joyintruth.com

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More Daily Homilies

Monday, November 24 - Homily: Vietnamese Martyrs Watch

Image of Fr. Alan on the story of the St. Andre Dung Lac and his 116 companions during the persecution of the Christians in Vietnam in the early 1800's.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Fr. Alan on the story of the St. Andre Dung Lac and his 116 companions during the persecution of the Christians in Vietnam in the early 1800's. continue reading


Homily of Father Peter M. J. Stravinskas on Christ the King Watch

Image of This last Sunday of the Church's year, Janus-like, opens onto the first Sunday of the new year with Advent as our minds and hearts are fixed once more upon the end-times which usher in the beginning of a new heaven and a new earth.  In the interim, you and I are called, in the words of Pope Paul VI, to lay the foundations for a

By Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D

My dear friends, you and I must become convinced of the rightness of the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews that - we have here no lasting city.  And so, we seek a Kingdom which is yet to come, to be sure, all the while gaining glimpses of that coming ... continue reading


Friday, November 21 - Homily: Mary is Greater than the Church Watch

Image of If by

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

If by "Church" we mean the People of God, all of the baptized (without Mary), then Mary is greater than the Church because we are sinners and She is Immaculate, "far surpassing all creatues" (LG #53), and we depend on Her, while She depends only on Christ. continue reading


Thursday, November 20 - Homily: Time of Visitation Watch

Image of Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD "because it did not recognize the time of its visitation", i.e., the visitation of the Savior, nor did it embrace His call to repentance and faith in Him. continue reading


Wednesday, November 19 - Homily: St Agnes, Poor Clare with many Coins Watch

Image of Fr. Alan connects the Gospel parable of the gold coins with the story of St. Agnes' life who was the sister of St Clare, the founder of the Poor Clares in cooperation with St. Francis.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Fr. Alan connects the Gospel parable of the gold coins with the story of St. Agnes' life who was the sister of St Clare, the founder of the Poor Clares in cooperation with St. Francis. She renounces many worldly coins that her natural family had and joins this ... continue reading


Tueday, November 18 - Homily: Mission to the Lost Watch

Image of The goal of the Church is to save those who would otherwise be lost, and we can see this in Our Lord's eating with Zacchaeus in today's Gospel.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The goal of the Church is to save those who would otherwise be lost, and we can see this in Our Lord's eating with Zacchaeus in today's Gospel. We can also see this in today's celebration where we remember the Apostle to the Jews and Foundation of the Church, St. ... continue reading


Monday, November 17 - Homily: Unusually Happy Marriage Watch

Image of St. Elizabeth of Hungary and her husband, Louis IV, had an unusually happy marriage because they were both saintly souls. Sanctity is the key to a happy marriage

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

St. Elizabeth of Hungary and her husband, Louis IV, had an unusually happy marriage because they were both saintly souls. Sanctity is the key to a happy marriage. continue reading


Friday, November 14 - Homily: St. Nicholas and the Challenge of Truth Watch

Image of Father Matthias comments on the account of the martyrdom of today's saints, Ss. Nicholas Tavelic and companions, who preached the Gospel to the Muslims in Jerusalem and sealed their witness with their blood.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Father Matthias comments on the account of the martyrdom of today's saints, Ss. Nicholas Tavelic and companions, who preached the Gospel to the Muslims in Jerusalem and sealed their witness with their blood. Against the swords of the Muslims, they brought the ... continue reading


Thursday, November 13 - Homily: St. Cabrini and Culture of Life Watch

Image of Fr. Alan on the life St. Frances Xavier Cabrini who was a missionary nun to the Americas only one hundred years ago.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Fr. Alan on the life St. Frances Xavier Cabrini who was a missionary nun to the Americas only one hundred years ago. He focuses on her virginity which was consecrated to God and how this fruitful purity gave spiritual life to others, and he contrasts this to our ... continue reading


Wednesday, November 12 - Homily: Thankfulness Watch

Image of Ask God to be made aware of all the blessings He has given to us

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Ask God to be made aware of all the blessings He has given to us. continue reading


All Daily Homilies News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 14:1-3, 4-5
1 Next in my vision I saw Mount Zion, and standing on ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:1-4
1 Looking up, he saw rich people putting their ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 24th, 2014 Image

St. Andrew Dung Lac
November 24: Through the missionary efforts of various religious families ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter