Monday January 13, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier First Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Hebrews 1:1-6) Gospel (St. Mark 1:14-20)
In the Gospel today, we hear from the first chapter of Saint Mark. And Saint Mark tells us the first thing that Jesus did was to preach, “The time of fulfillment is at hand. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” The Gospel message, of course, is the very message that Jesus Himself came to preach. As the Prophet Isaiah said, “How blessed are the feet of those who bring good news,” and the good news is the Gospel. That is what the word means; the word Gospel means “the Good News.” Jesus came to bring the news of salvation, of redemption from sin, and forgiveness of sin. And so it was that He was preaching to the people that they needed to believe in this, and that has not changed; this is still the basic message of Our Lord.
It is also important to recognize that is the third of the mysteries that Pope John Paul II has recently given to us in the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary: the Proclamation of the Gospel and the Call to Conversion. That is a continual call to conversion for each one of us. He calls each one individually and he calls us – as He did Simon, Andrew, James, and John – to come, to follow Him, to put behind us whatever is of the old and to live a new way.
Now we need to look at this and say, “If He is not God, there is absolutely no reason in the world that we should be following Him. And if He is God, there is absolutely no reason in the world why we should not be following Him.” If we are going to follow Him, it means we need to do what we have seen the apostles do, and that is to make a radical shift in our lives, to put behind the things of old and to begin to live the new way. The question of whether or not He is Who He claims to be is precisely what Saint Paul takes up in his Letter to the Hebrews. Right from the very beginning of his Letter to the Hebrews, Saint Paul is pointing out that Jesus is not an angel but He is above the angels, that all the angels are to worship Him. He asked, “To which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my son, this day I have begotten you’?” It comes right out of the Second Psalm. So he is telling us that as important as the prophets and the patriarchs of old are, God spoke through them only in various and fragmentary ways, but now He has spoken to us through His Son, the fullness of revelation. There is nothing more to be revealed. There is more to happen, obviously, but it has already been revealed. And so, for us, it is to recognize Who He is: that He is the Promised One; that He is the fulfillment of all the prophets, of all the patriarchs, of all the saints of old; and that He is the Son of God. He is Who He claims to be.
And because He is Who He claims to be, there is an obligation then on our part. Once we come to that realization then we need to ask ourselves, “What is our response to His call to us, the call to believe in the Good News and the call to conversion of life?” To convert means “to turn around”, and that is what we are asked to do, to turn from the old way to live according to a new way. We cannot be walking kind of half-in and half-out; it does not work that way. It is all or nothing. If we are going to claim to believe in Jesus Christ, we need to learn from the apostles to immediately put behind us what is not of Christ and to live according to the way that He has called us to. That is the call to believe in the Gospel and the call to repentance: to put sin behind us and anything that is not of God, to embrace the universal call to holiness, and to choose Jesus Christ in all that He is and all that He requires.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.