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  • Elpidio Pezzella

Repent and Believe in the Gospel

Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, andthe kingdom of Godis at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel".

(Mark 1:14-15 NKJV)

The first words of Jesus' preaching are a synthesis of his teaching contained in the Gospel. The succession of the verbs "repent" and "believe" says a lot about what we hear or we ourselves preach. You can't believe first and then change direction. Without becoming aware of one's condition and the will to change, it will be somewhat complicated to come to believe. We are faced with a Word that shakes and invites us to reflect, also because we tend to address it and attribute it to those who are not yet in the number of Jesus' followers. our shadows and to proudly elevate ourselves to judge others. Instead we should look at ourselves in every biblical expression to evaluate our state of spiritual health.


The Christianity that we personify languishes in the face of these imperatives, dressed rigidly in ecclesial clothes that gradually over the centuries have lost the good smell of Christ and above all the dust collected by standing in the streets. Streets and squares were gradually abandoned, preferring rooms in gilded buildings. Likewise, the prophetic announcement of the Gospel has been reduced to an offer of contents by the community to which the believer can adhere, to a lifestyle stitched with various norms and prohibitions, from which it will be impossible to escape unscathed. Suffice it to recall that the first mention of the word "church" in the book of Acts is associated with the tragic story of Ananias and Sapphira, as if to reveal to us all our inability to embody the full gospel, as the first believers intended it.


Faced with the gloomy features of today's church, forced to deal with a crisis of numbers by a lashing and demeaning pandemic, it is evident that over time it is increasingly becoming a religion to be practiced, a cultural memory, an institution in to identify with: all this is the equivalent of the cooling of charity announced by Jesus himself (Matthew 24:12). Perhaps the secularization that was so much talked about twenty years ago is now passing through the coffers to collect duties, inducing some to proclaim and invite this church to "return to the gospel". Descending into the small group of the first disciples, addressed as "men of little faith" and "unable to understand" the words of the Master, I wondered if I too had to go back now more than ever, and go back where and to do what.


The expression "return to the gospel" resonates as the motto of returning to the sources of the humanists, it refers to one of Luther's battle cries "sola Scriptura" and therefore suggests that there was a deviation from the ancient paths, to having deposed the Word for more. I find it hard to believe that this is the case, because at least personally and in the environments I frequent, Scripture remains at the center of personal and ecclesial spirituality: daily reading plans, meditations, preaching, seminars and biblical courses run after each other. Wanting to be more scrupulous, it might be easier to admit that in some circumstances some contents may have been watered down, that the substance has been fragmented to respond to increasingly stringent temporal needs and to the request of an audience quickly satisfied with solid and more inclined bread. to the milk of the Word. What is wrong then? I found this response enlightening in a recent reading: “The Church was born as a cooperative of the hungry and thirsty. If this is not the case, everything becomes moldy".


Then "returning to the Gospel" will not be a simple repatriation to the land of the Scriptures, to which everyone claims belonging. Coming back is much more than distancing yourself from the current situation, trying to relive the good old days. In the Old Testament, the verb "to return" is the most used in the lexicon of repentance and change of life. Indicates a change in direction, a reversal of the direction of travel. In the New Testament the term adds a change of mentality that makes a change of direction possible. I dare say a conversion is needed. The Word must be preached in such a way as to induce a change, because as Jesus declared: "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near". By reaching out to what lies ahead of me, I cannot rock the good old days, I must continue the palio of eternal vocation (Philippians 3: 13-14). And not wanting to be left behind in any way, I discover how urgently it is for me to renew the gift of God that is in me (2 Timothy 1: 6).


 

Weekly Bible Reading

Plan # 04

January 17, Genesis 41-42; Matthew 12:1-23

January 18, Genesis 43-45; Matthew 12:24-50

January 19, Genesis 46-48; Matthew 13:1-30

January 20, Genesis 49-50; Matthew 13:31-58

January 21, Exodus 1-3; Matthew 14:1-21

January 22, Exodus 4-6; Matthew 14:22-36

January 23, Exodus 7-8; Matthew 15:1-20



Photo by moonfire8, www.freeimages.com


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