Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11 Psalm 85: 9-10, 11-12, 13-14 Peter 3:8-14 Mark 1:1-8
“That All Should Come to Repentance…”
On reading the first words of this Sunday’s excerpt from the prophet Isaiah, the beautiful tones of Handel’s Messiah come to mind, “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.” I sit back in a warm glow and hear those words as though spoken as though to me.
On further reflection, though, one has to ask, why is God offering comfort to the people, what have they done and experienced that has caused them hardship and sorrow, what choices have they made whose consequences they have reaped?
The excerpts from the Letter of Peter and the Beginning of the Gospel of Mark direct us: “…the Lord is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3).” and from Mark 1 “ John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance…”. It is very easy in our world of “Tweets” and sound bites to gloss over these words. Each and all of us bear responsibility. We bear responsibility not only for our personal choices but for the consequences of those corporate choices which construct stumbling blocks, impasses, and broken communications out of our personal choices.
The question and answer in Peter “…what sort of person ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God” give us direction and motivation. Like the shepherd who feeds his flock and gathers the lambs, we are called to choose to live and serve as Jesus did. We are to be “missional” disciples, who follow the example of Jesus in feeding those hungry for food and those hungry for inclusion, in giving drink to those who thirst for clean water and for healing affirmation, in clothing those who have little with outerwear and with unconditional respect, serving at the table of humanity with humility, with love and with a spirit of repentance. Then comfort is given to those most in need of comforting by the life-giving Spirit of Jesus the Christ.
Repentance is acknowledging my/our inability to recognize God wherever and whenever. As wounded healers, we pray for God’s coming in each person whether in our personal contacts, in the stories we hear, in the images we see on the media, or in our heart’s response to God in prayer. Trying to grow in open, unconditional love and acceptance, and forgiveness, we too will encouraged by God’s comforting presence.
-Sr. Mary Laura Lesniak
Sisters of St. Mary of Namur . 241 Lafayette Avenue . Buffalo, New York 14213 . (716) 884-8221