God has overlooked the time of ignorance, but now He demands that all people everywhere repent.
Today we hear the account of the start of Jesus’ public ministry from St. Mark. We heard the account from St. John last week.
As you may recall, we did a bit of a riff on the age-old group dance, the Hokey-Pokey, wherein we were urged to put our whole selves in and to not just leave them there, but to get to work announcing God’s Kingdom. To be active in calling others for the Lord.
Our active engagement follows the model which we heard in the gospel: Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Jesus, as he consistently does, wastes no time. His mission was urgent and His time limited. So is ours. We have much to do for God.
In our readings and gospel, we see people responding exactly that way. They drop everything to do as God asks. The people of Nineveh repent. Paul urges the Corinthians to focus on Kingdom tasks and not to be distracted by anything else. The people Jesus calls respond by leaving the worldly behind to focus on the work of the Kingdom, to be “fishers of men.”
In each of these cases there is an urgency that the people get. In the aha moment they are saying: ‘I get it, I must do this now. No time to delay. Nothing else is important.’
I would like to focus a bit on our Alleluia verse because it wraps this all up very well.
The verse comes from Acts 17:30. Paul is in Athens, not one of his most successful missionary journeys. Yet on a hill near the Acropolis which was a public meeting place he calls people to Jesus and speaks of Jesus’ promised resurrection. He speaks of God’s demand on them.
Paul, like always, is being bold and the people, like those nowadays, want nothing to do with a God Who has demands. In fact, we can practically hear them whispering – who is this God to demand anything of me! Even among those who were kind of receptive their response speaks volumes: “We should like to hear you on this some other time.”
God does overlook the past, but once we are converted, have come to faith in Jesus, He places a demand on us, to announce the kingdom and bring people to repentance and salvation. ‘I get it, I must do this now. No time to delay. Nothing else is important.’