In the old covenant, they had the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy of Holies. Only a select few could ever approach God Himself. God remained hidden, in a way. But today in our first reading from Hebrews 12, we see that we approach “the heavenly Jerusalem…God the judge of all…and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant.” And we need not be afraid! In the Gospel reading from Mark 6, we see Jesus sending out the Twelve.
“So they went off and preached repentance.” Gee, I’ll bet that made them really popular guys! Let’s assume that telling people they need to repent is not going to get you invited to a lot of office parties. Or even church functions, for that matter. I’m certain that was the case in the days of the Apostles, too. In every time and place, no one likes to hear that they need to repent. It is an eternally unpopular message. Yet it is one that needs to be preached, perhaps now more than ever.
We don’t like to even think about preaching repentance. Why? For one, we feel like hypocrites, right? I mean, I don’t know anyone who needs to repent more than me! So how can I tell others to repent? Second, we’re afraid that people will brand us “judgmental.” Oh, if only I had a nickel for every time someone called me that! So, I have a plan. Blame the Church! Believe me, She can take it. Here’s what I mean…rather than saying, “You’re wrong!” or “You need to repent!”, say, “Well, here’s what the Church teaches about ___________.” Then it is up to the sinner (be it me or someone else) to take it from there.
Father, give us the courage to confront evil and wrongdoing in ourselves, and in the world. Send us out to preach repentance and forgiveness. Amen.