The Gospel today is from St. Mark 1:12-15. The very thought of Jesus suffering hunger, loneliness, and humiliation at the hands of his enemy – and that all this was for us – should make us feel ashamed at the little bits of suffering and humiliation we are willing to suffer for our own selves. He had no sin to atone for. He was making atonement for us and for our sins. He was the Son of God and his home was heaven, but he left it for a while to share is eternal home him. What is the thanks he gets from us? Ingratitude, forgetfulness, and even worse: insults and disobedience.
While the Church has eased the strict fastings and penances of Lent, we are still expected to do some private fasting and penance. It need not be fasting from food, but we can all do some daily penance which will help to keep our unruly minds and bodies in check while at the same time it will show that we are grateful to our loving Saviour for all that he has suffered for us. A few extra prayers each day, control of our temper in the home, less talk and especially less uncharitable talk among our neighbours, a little helping hand to a neighbour in need, a fervent prayer and where we can spare it (perhaps by doing without some luxury) a donation toward helping the starving millions in other lands.
We can all keep the last verse of today’s reading before our minds with great profit, “Repent and believe in the gospel”. Turn away from sin and come back to God. Anyone who believes in the gospel, who believes that the everlasting life after death prepared by God for all those who do his will on earth, should not find it hard to give up offending that loving God who thinks so much of him or her. This life is only a passing shadow, every step we take, every breath we breathe is bringing us neared to our final destination -eternal life with God.
Now is the time to take these words of Christ to heart. He is asking each one of us today, to repent and to believe in the gospel, that is, to act according to its teaching. Christ, in his mercy, will make this appeal to people again and again, but will we hear it? If we answer Christ’s appeal now and start living our Christian faith in all sincerity, we will be ready to pass over to the future, happy, unending life.