Is 8:23 - 9:3
1 Cor 1:10-13, 17
Mt 4:12-23 or 4:12-17
Watch a video with homily hints
When Jesus begins to preach, he starts by saying “Repent” (today’s Gospel). When John the Baptist began to preach, he said, “Repent” (see Mt. 3:1-2). When Peter began to preach on the day of Pentecost, he said, “Repent” (see Acts 2:38). The readings talk today about light breaking into darkness. Repentance, whose Greek words means a change of the mind, is enlightenment that what one may have thought was right is actually wrong, and what one thought led to happiness and fulfillment actually does not.
The imperative to repent, furthermore, comes about precisely because light has broken into darkness. Jesus says in today’s Gospel passage that the reason, motive, and basis for repentance is that “the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” A kingdom has broken into the world; therefore, we see its light, are attracted by it, and begin to move in its direction. This means breaking from sin and from all that leads us away from the light.
The great darkness of our day is the myth that some human lives, particularly those in the womb, just don’t count. To so many, these lives are not worthy of constitutional protection, not worthy of our public witness, and not even worthy of discussion.
Often, this is because of the very phenomenon Paul describes in the second reading. “I belong to this political party.” “I belong to that organization.” “I follow this particular philosophy or theology.” Based on many of these false divisions among us, some try to justify “the right to choose” abortion.
Yet Christ breaks through these false divisions. If all are one in Christ Jesus, it is because he has united all human life to himself and given us all an equal call to salvation and eternal life. Raising human life to the heights of heaven, he has raised men and women, born and unborn. There is only one human nature, and by the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery, everyone who shares that human nature now also shares access to the very life of God. Because of that, we uphold the dignity of every person. This indeed is the light that has broken into our darkness, the Kingdom of God that ushers us to repentance.