February 21, 2021 – First Sunday of Lent
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/022121.cfm)
What’s the difference between Judas & Peter? We know both are trusted disciples of Jesus (Peter as the coordinator, Judas as the treasurer). Both also have failed the Lord through Peter’s denial & Judas’ betrayal. But what’s the difference between them?
After all things happened, Judas ended and gave up his life by killing himself thus giving the risen Lord NO chance to forgive and love him again & anew. Peter however despite what happened, humbly waited until the Lord resurrection, thus giving the risen Lord the chance to forgive and love Peter again and anew. In other words, Repentance and Faith made the difference. Unlike Judas, Peter repented and still believed in the risen Lord – which gives the Lord the chance to forgive and love Him again and anew.
The very basic message Jesus always preaches us is that: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand”. This is the fullest expression of God’s covenant to us – that God is already near and always here with us through His Son Jesus. And as response, this Gospel of God’s blessing challenges us “To Repent and Believe the Gospel”. Amidst this Good news then, all we have to do, and what is required of us is to choose repentance and faith in Jesus as our response to the good news of God’s grace upon us always. By our repentance and faith then, we allow and give God’s gospel a chance to forgive and love us again and anew, and in effect change our lives now for the better.
And along with God’s message, our response of repentance and faith entail a few realizations…
First, a realization that “there is something wrong here”. Repentance and faith begin to happen when we realize that our very life now is out of sync, or out of tune with God’s message. There is something wrong, missing or lacking with one’s life – that we are not what we should be and what we choose to be.
2nd, a realization that “I am wrong”. Repentance and faith occur when in all honesty, openness, and courage we admit that we our very selves here are to blame and are the very mistake and wrong.
3rd, a realization that “I need to change & help”. Only by taking responsibility for our mistakes, (not by blaming others) and by accepting God’s mercy and other’s help, Good news & good things start to happen. If you want change, begin with oneself.
4th, a realization that “I want to be…I choose to be”. Repentance and Faith require not only changes but also commitments. It is all about starting again and starting anew – giving oneself another chance in life. It is not only about leading a life away from something, but leading a life toward something better and meaningful.
5th, a realization that “I believe in God and His Good News of Jesus as God’s kingdom is here now at hand”. Repentance and Faith thrive only when, like Peter we always allow and give God’s message a chance to forgive and love us again and anew, and thus make our life better.
Remember Jesus commanded us not only to repent but “to repent and believe”. This means that as much as repentance is a choice, believing the Gospel is also a choice. Obeying the command to repent and believe then is a choice. Requiring someone to repent and believe is thus useless, unless repenting and believing is their own choice.
The Gospel has already always been preached to us: “The Kingdom of God is at hand”. All we have to do now is like Peter to choose “To repent and believe the Gospel”, as we were reminded last Ash Wednesday when we received the Ashes to begin Lenten Season this year 2021.
So Help us God. So May it Be. Amen.