SPANISH VERSION »
OUR MISSION AS FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Saturday, after Ash Wednesday, March 08, 2014
Isa. 58:1-9, Ps. 50, Matt. 9:14-15
Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.
"After this he went out, and saw a tax collector, named Levi, sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.' And he left everything, and rose and followed him" (Luke 5:27-28).
Here we see the mission of Jesus. He came, as he says today, to call sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32), that is, to faith in Jesus. The call to repentance (metanoian) means a call to change your mind, and, in a Christian context, it means to change one's mind and orientation from the bad to the good, from sin to God. It does not mean: do works of penance or do penitential acts. Repentance is not a work that we do to justify or forgive ourselves, but rather a turning away from sin and toward God to receive his free gift of justification and forgiveness that comes to us from the work of Christ on the cross. By repentance one leaves his bad orientation, his bad attitude, and his sins; and now reorients himself to God and to faith in Jesus. Repentance and faith are two aspects of one and the same act of faith. It is what we have to do to be saved by Jesus Christ. It is the death of Christ that justifies, forgives, and saves us; not our works, or our works of penance, or our penances (Gal. 2:16). What we have to do to receive this justification, forgiveness, and salvation is stop sinning, change our mind, and believe in Jesus Christ and in the power of his death on the cross to pay the debt for our sins, suffering for us their just punishment to free us from them and forgive us justly, as is fitting for an all-just God.
It is Jesus' mission to call sinners to repentance and faith in order to save them by his death on the cross. Today we see how Levi responded to this call. "He left everything, and rose and followed him" (Luke 5:28). After this his life changed radically. He became an apostle of Jesus with a mission to the world, to call other sinners to repentance and faith in Christ for their salvation. This is also our mission. We too are called, like Levi, to call other sinners to repentance and faith in Christ for their forgiveness, justification, and salvation.
Christ wants all to have the opportunity to hear the good news about God's salvation through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, so that they might have the opportunity to believe in him for the relief of the forgiveness of their sins through their faith in him and through the sacrament of reconciliation, which communicates to us the merits of his death (John 20:22-23). He wants all to be able to die in baptism to their old man and rise as new men in Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:22-24; Rom. 6:4). And he wants all to be able to celebrate the sacrifice of Christ's saving death on the cross in the sacrifice of the Mass, which makes present for believers the one and only, once for all, unrepeatable sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for the salvation of the world.
When one repents and believes in Christ, the whole quality of his life is greatly affected. It is our mission, given to us by the risen Christ (Matt. 28:19-20), to vastly improve the quality of life of all we can reach with the gospel, the saving message of Jesus Christ.
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