“Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” Matthew 4.17
Throughout the season of Lent we are taken on a journey of self-reflection. For some, this involves denial of things that we might prefer to enjoy, others commit to a more rigorous life of prayer and Scripture reading, and still some are torn by guilt to “give something up” and still fall prey to our homegrown coffee-shop who offers special incentives to keep us in their stores.
We might view John the Baptist as a personification of a Lenten journey. His lifestyle was one of denial and of drawing toward God. He kept very little to himself and invited people to prepare themselves for the coming of the Kingdom of God. This preparation requires the gift of repentance. Through this gift, we are invited to recognize where we have fallen short of God’s best, and wish to acknowledge the need for forgiveness.
The Kingdom of Heaven was the primary message of Jesus. In this message, Jesus was saying that God has reestablished his reign over his Kingdom. Time and time again, this was the message Jesus proclaimed and the one that the disciples were sent out to proclaim as well.
The difference between John’s message and Jesus’ was the “soon-to-be” and “it’s here”. We have that the same message to proclaim; God, who created you, wants to be in relationship with you. The freedom for our gift of repentance comes in the gift of Jesus’ death on the cross. This Kingdom, this restored relationship is for today.
Like the disciples, we have been given the opportunity to share this good news, today. Our communities are desperately in need of the knowledge that the Kingdom of Heaven is here. Broken lives are made whole, the oppressed are freed and the hungry are fed – this is Good News that we are invited to share.
As we continue in our Lenten journeys, let us look for opportunities to share this message and be active residents in the Kingdom today.