“So they went off and preached repentance.”

For Sunday we turn back to Mark (6:7-13).  Today we hear of Jesus sending out the apostles two by two with only a single tunic and sandals, and a walking stick.  When they are welcomed into a home they are to stay there for the entire time.  If their words or presence are unwelcome they are to testify against the place.  Then they go off preaching repentance, exorcising the possessed, and anointing the sick.  It is interesting that the apostles first words in their ministry had to do with repentance.  It should be no surprise since Mark records Jesus first words upon opening His public ministry as: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (1:15).  But why must repentance come first?  Because we are not properly disposed to receive the fullness of the truth until we give up sin and vice.  Any evil ways to which we cling (and mortal sin completely) only serve to block the graces needed to comprehend God’s word to the fullest extent possible and then to live it well.  To take it further, even having undue attachment to objectively good things can be a hindrance to our life in Christ if they seriously impinge on prayer, study, and good works.  Regular (daily, ideally) examination of conscience “in what I have done and in what I have failed to do” (from the Confiteor at Sunday Mass) will prepare us well for regular sacramental confession (at least monthly) so that we will become more open to the help the Lord so much wants to give in this ordinary means of grace.

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