Fr. John Puodziunas, OFM
Assumption BVM Province
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.
A reading from the holy gospel according to Matthew.
Glory to you o Lord.
When Jesus had heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might now be fulfilled: land of Zebulun and land Nephtali, the way to the sea beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen. From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters: fighting, kicking, slapping, punching, even biting it seems that this is all part of the drama of what we call growing up. No wonder that children, when they come to the sacrament of reconciliation, most often confess to fighting with my brothers and sisters. And my response to that is usually "Good! I'm glad," because now we can talk about repentance and forgiveness and reconciliation. And for the most part that response seemed to work until one day a young boy just looked at me and said "Good? But my mom always cries when we fight." Division, conflict are a part of life and when it happens in a family strife and division can be the most painful experience that a parent can witness, cutting to the core of what we know we should be and could be. It's no wonder that conflict then overflows into our world. Not only in families but then also where? Between nations, between peoples, between neighbors, between strangers. Division and conflict abound throughout the world. And through all of this I hear the voice of that little boy, "My mom always cries when we fight." In writing to the Corinthians, Saint Paul must have witnessed great division and rivalry amongst a people, causing him tremendous agony and inner sorrow. He writes in the words that we read today: "I urge you brothers and sisters not to have division among you but to be united." Is not this urging also for us today? Not to settle for the divisions that seem so normal at times, the conflicts that abound? But to always strive for that unity, that reconciliation which is our mission. In the gospel Jesus begins his ministry of reconciliation where John the Baptist left off with a very simple message he says "Repent!The kingdom of heaven is at hand, it's happening now, right before your very eyes." A call, an invitation to become part of this great mystery of God and the world, a kingdom where unity will replace division and conflict. But how? How can this happen? Repent. That's the message. Repent. That's the mission. Change. We all desire change, we want change so that we can be healthier, we want things to change so that we can be wealthier, we want things to change so that someone can get a job. We want things to change so that life could be better. But all of this desire for change, the desire for change of our situation. The repentance that the gospel calls us to is a change of heart, a change of attitude, a change of a way of being ,a change that is characterized by values of integrity and honesty and reconciliation and justice. When our hearts change to these values then we begin to form the unity that God promises the kingdom of heaven at hand before us. As a product of Catholic schools, many of us may know that these values were ingrained in us and so we continue this beginning of Catholic schools week to pray for those in Catholic schools; the educators, the teachers, the administrators, the students and the families that they embody these values. We also pray for ourselves that we embody the message of repentance and be willing to change our hearts to be part of this great kingdom which is of God and maybe then mom will cry no more. We pray now the Apostle's Creed found on page 51 in your missalettes.
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