Mark’s Gospel opens with John the Baptist proclaiming, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Br. Robert L’Esperance explains how the gospel concept of repentance – which literally means having a change of mind – is the essence of the kingdom, because it means that the world does not have to be the way it is. We have the power to change it.
Transcript: A lot of biblical scholars tell us that the gospel of Mark is probably the oldest account of the four gospels. It’s probably the first earliest gospel, and there’s a terseness, and there’s a tension in this gospel that always strikes me.
And the way Mark begins his gospel is by telling us that John the Baptist has come proclaiming a message of repentance, to repent because the kingdom of God is at hand. He’s portrayed as the forerunner who announces the coming of Jesus.
And it’s this word about repentance I think that is so important to the message of the kingdom, and for me, it’s the essence of the message of the kingdom. And “repentance” is a translation of a Greek word that’s used in the text; it comes from metanoia, the Greek word metanoia, and it literally means turning around. But it even more subtly means for one to have a change of mind, to change one’s mind.
And when the gospel talk about that, what the gospel is talking about, it’s talking about our ability to change. And Jesus points this out to us. It’s not something that’s obvious to us as people. What Jesus’ message is about is that we can choose to change how we perceive ourselves, and how we perceive one another. And the message is that we don’t have to see ourselves or one another through the lens of alienation or through the lens of being set in opposition against one another. So much of how human beings act, both toward themselves, and toward one another, is a mode of alienation, rejection, caution, suspicion, and Jesus says that there is a different way of being in the world. There is a different way for us to be in the world, with ourselves first to begin with, and once that is effected, then how we interact with one another. It doesn’t have to be—what Jesus is saying is that the world does not have to be the way it is, and we can change it. Human beings have been given the power to change it. So when we see evil in the world, when we see the problems of the world, what’s the good news of the message of the kingdom is that you can change that. You have the power to change that.
I have a question for you: How can you make a difference in your life and in the lives of others?
– Br. Robert L’Esperance
Question: How can you make a difference in your own life, and in the lives of others?
Who has been a channel of God’s grace for you? In conversation or over email this week, reach out to five people to find out how they came to know God’s love. How does the Good News shape the way they live? Reflect on how you are inspired by their witness and examples.