In the Gospel reading for this Sunday (Matthew 4:12-23 ), Our Lord starts His public ministry soon after John the Baptist was arrested. He started by preaching or making two demands: repent and believe!
To repent is to change, to leave behind the way we were. It’s not just an attempt to ‘sin no more’, but it is also a new way of being, a new way of living, and a new view of life. Sometimes it is a dramatic process, but more often it is a daily process of growth. The Gospel of St Matthew records for us that when Jesus called his followers, they changed. Some immediately abandoned their nets, their boats, and their families to follow Jesus. No questions asked!. No hesitation!. And after that turning point, they stayed with him and learned from him for three years. As believers we want to be like them, responding with a resounding YES, but often the reality of life’s circumstances sets in: “What do I have to give up?”, “What if I am not good enough?”, “I am merely a child (or a labourer, sinner… etc)?” Of all the excuses/reasons we can come up with, we would also find we the answer in the Gospel. Jesus invites everyone! He called fishermen, tax collectors, sinners, farmers, labourers, prostitutes, peasants….
His call to discipleship transcends that moment on the shores of the Sea of Galilee in this Sunday’s Gospel; he calls to us here and now, in our own time and place. The Good News can only be taken to the ends of the earth if each and every one of us starts to heed the call to repent and believe….
Blessings, Fr Michael