When I was in seminary, one of our teachers, Deacon Dick Regan, told us that he believed what Jesus was telling his followers in this reading from the gospel was that "The Kingdom of God is so close to you that all you have to do is repent, and believe in the Good News." That’s it!
I thought to myself, “How can it possibly be that easy? All good Christians have repented and believe in the Good News and yet where is the Kingdom of God?”
Now, years later as I revisit this Gospel reading I ask myself, “Have I truly repented, I mean repent to the core of who I am and do I truly believe in the Good News as Jesus presented it to us, to me?”
These are hard questions I ask of myself and yet could I have accurately answered them back in seminary when my head was deep in study and my emotions were at my dad’s bedside as he
was dying in Philly of cancer?
But today, what is my answer? I believe repenting is not a “one and done” thing. I see it as something we come to grips with as we understand what we have done and who we may have hurt along the way. Much of the pain we have cause may have been unintentional but none the less as we begin to more fully understand the love of God and what that love is calling us to do, repentance becomes a more natural form of prayer. And gradually as we do repent, the teachings of Christ become more and more alive.