Readings this Sunday anticipate lent. The story of Jonah in the first reading sees the prophet demanding repentance of a corrupt city. Paul in the second reading reminds us that our time is short, the world as we know it is passing away. This sets the scene for the gospel where Christ central message as he begins his ministry, is “repent and believe”. Lets do so and confess..
I’m sure you know Ignatius of Loyola’s story. Early on in life he sought glory as a soldier. But badly wounded and lying on a hospital bed he had a conversion experience. Christ called him to a different warfare, a battle for souls. He went on to found the Jesuits, become a great missionary and guide many souls to God.
Yet in all this he just answered Christ’s gospel calls: “repent and believe..follow me”. Reading the lives of the saints and experiencing Christ in a vision, he came to see the uselessness of vain worldly pursuits. He realised that true glory and happiness was in serving God. Like Christ in the desert, he rejected Satan’s temptation to adore pleasure, power and wealth rather than God. We must learn the same lesson. That lasting joy, happiness and glory is in loving others and God with all our heart. We’re to do so through all trials. The world throws many temptations in our way to lure us from faith’s enduring values. So we must constantly renew our Christian commitment. Our soul’s journey needs constant repentance and faith renewal. And that struggle ends only in the grave and the freedom of the Blessed.
Christ says only he who perseveres to the end will be saved. So the challenge is to keep firmly to the path begun in baptism. Then we were delivered from evil and made members of God’s holy people. Our life’s great task is to remain an integral part of that family, to journey with it to eternal life, like the apostles who followed Christ even unto final martyrdom. We may not be required to die for Christ and his church but we are asked to live for them. This means rejecting the world’s contrary ways despite its lures, for it has many false prophets.
One way to rise above all that and remain steadfast in faith, is to keep the vision of Christ’s final coming before us. Then he’ll come in glory to judge the living and the dead. A powerful motive for following him faithfully is the final words he will address to the just: “well done good and faithful servant inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world”. This is wisdom, to follow Christ with joyful hearts like the apostles or Ignatius, through the trials, sufferings and temptations of life so as to gain the crown of life at last when we’ll go out to meet him with the saints in the heavenly kingdom, wearing the white robes that we have kept intact since baptism.
One way to keep that white garment bright is to live in the world with pure hearts and do our bit to evangelise others. I myself say often repeat the words of psalm 30: “A pure heart recreate for me, O lord, and take not your Holy Spirit from me”. That’s what Ignatius prayed also in his spiritual exercises which are a way to remain true to God’s Spirit. By prayer, good example and practice of the faith we’re to be a light of Christ for our families and the church? So that we’ll have treasures in heaven when “the wheel of life runs down” and when, as that Jim Reeves song says, the angels will beckon us “from heaven’s open door”. For the godless values of this world pass and are empty at last but Christ is lord of love, goodness, happiness, beauty, truth and salvation both for this world and forever and ever, amen.
So as God’s people called to constant repentance, renewal of belief and faithful practice of the faith let’s profess it now..
Prayers of the Faithful
For our Holy Father, the Pope, and the bishops of the church that they like the apostles may follow Christ faithfully and lead the whole church and the world to justice and equality.
For civil leaders that they may not put any obstacles in the way of the church’s mission and the free work of God’s Holy Spirit..
For our youth that like the young apostles they may seek out and follow Christ the Way, the Truth and the Life, and so find rest for their souls both in this world and the next..
For ourselves that in our homes, workplaces and communities we may be a light of Christ and his church to our families and all we associate with.
For the sick that carrying their unavoidable crosses after Christ in faithful discipleship despite all trials, they may turn those sufferings into gold and enjoy untold rest and reward hereafter..
For the dead that having followed Christ faithfully along the road of life, they may come to the reward of the blessed, with the help of our continuing love and prayers.
We ask all these our prayers through the same Christ our Lord whose wounds constantly intercede for us before the Father, amen.
There’s a story told of St.Ignatius, that after founding the Jesuits they made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to seek God’s will. But they were prevented by circumstances from completing their journey. So instead they went to Rome and placed themselves at the service of the Holy Father. Sometimes in following Christ the will of God is revealed to us in strange ways. Lets do our bit for God, however the Spirit calls us to serve..Hail Mary.