Sunday, January 25, 2015

Admission to the Kingdom

Today we turn to the gospel that we will be reading throughout this year, and we pick up after the arrest of John as Jesus appears announcing the gospel of the Kingdom of God. This kingdom sits not in Kronos (clock time) but Chairos (God's time). And if we want to be a part of this kingdom two things are require: Metanoia and Pistis. These are often translated repentance and faith but the words mean much more.

As St. John Paul II reminded us in his 1984 post-synodic exhortation Reconciliation and Penance in the Modern World, repentence/metanoia is a radical change. It refers to a change of heart, a change of mind. It requires us to see the world in a totally new way. And when we see the world in this new way, we behave in a new way.

Pistis is faith in the sense of trust or reliance. It is a willingness to rely totally on God, to abandon reliance on self and others.

Notice what happens in today's gospel. Immediately after this proclamation, we have story of the call of the first four apostles. The first four citizens of the Kingdom. But in order to enter into the kingdom they had to abandon their present life. They had to walk away from their present life and follow him and him alone.

What am I willing to abandon in order to be a part of the Kingdom of God? The first two apostles abandoned their nets. For them these nets represented their livelihood.

The second two apostles went even further. They abandoned not a what but a who. They abandoned their father. St. Luke will say it even more harshly,

If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple. (Lk. 14:26)

Are we wiling to go that far? Are we willing to look at even our closest friends and loved ones and abandon those relationships that lead us away from God?

And just in case you think my interpretation of this is crazy. Look at the second reading today in which St. Paul says,

let those having wives act as not having them

The Kingdom of God is the pearl of great price, and we have to be willing to sell everything we have.

It is a very simple sequence. Pistis leads to metanoia leads to the Kingdom. Total trust in and reliance on God lead to conversion which leads us toward the Kingdom of God. It is so very simple and yet so incredibly difficult.

We are creatures of habit. We want both. We want to be part of the kingdom and we want to hold onto our current life. We want a better life, but we don't want to change.

This gospel calls us to examine every aspect of our life and sort: those things and people who lead me towards the kingdom and those that don't. To lean totally on God, and abandon.