“This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15).
With these words as recorded by Mark, Jesus begins his public ministry in time and space and we in 2021 begin the first week of Ordinary Time together. Whether we are in the season of Christmas, Easter, or Ordinary Time, each day is an opportunity to be thankful and celebrate our life for this continues to be “the time of fulfillment”. The Kingdom of God is still at hand because Jesus is still present with us.
We are not alone on our journey. The Son of God became human, as we just celebrated this Christmas season, and as we will celebrate in Easter, he died and rose again. This was no mere resuscitation like with Lazarus who rose and died again. Jesus conquered death and became the firstborn of the new creation. Ordinary Time is the season in which we not only study the life and teachings of Jesus but hopefully continue to be willing to be conformed to his Body and the will of his Father through the love of the Holy Spirit.
One of the things that may hold us back from embracing the gift of the Kingdom of God in our midst is that we have often chosen to place our focus on ourselves first before God and others. Jesus calls us to reorient our lives in urging us to repent, to turn away from the false reality that we are the center and author of our own lives, such that we come to realize the truth that God is our true author and director. To repent also means to open ourselves to his love, to place our trust in him, and to be assured that God accepts us as we are, right now at this very moment.
We do not repent so that God will love us. We do not have to do anything or act perfectly or say the right prayer for God to love us, we just need to “move the Lord out of the category of ‘polite company’ and into that of intimate friend to whom one can tell everything” (Barry 1987, 55). To repent means to turn back to the God whose arms are wide open ready to embrace us. It is we who have turned away from him. Let us turn back at this moment to our loving God and Father so that we can receive the forgiveness, mercy, and love that he offers us.
As we begin our journey into Ordinary Time together, let us recommit our lives to God by receiving his invitation to walk together side by side. Jesus encourages us to resist limiting God and the possibilities he places before us. Instead of attempting to bend his will to ours, may we allow the love of the Holy Spirit to expand our hearts and minds such that we will trust God more and be like a pencil in his hand.