The Gospel for the first Sunday of ordinary time, Jan. 21, was from Mark’s Gospel, chapter 1,

Fr. John Milton, CSV

verses 14-20. The Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent, Feb. 18, is from Mark’s Gospel, chapter 1, verses 12-15. The common verses of these readings are:

“After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: ‘This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.’”

I find this repetition interesting. We hear, early in the liturgical year, what we hear again at the beginning of Lent. Do these two citations of the same passage say something important about our call to Christian discipleship? If we “repent and believe,” is this enough? Both words imply – they demand – a behavioral response.

I will look at my life and identify places where change is needed. Are there relationships that call for healing? Are honesty and integrity tightly woven into my daily activities?

I will reflect on what I believe and try to act on that belief. Belief is more than a collection of nice-sounding phrases. I believe in a Creator God. Do I respect God’s creation? I believe in a God whose Divine Son died for all people. Do my concerns for others’ welfare extend over and beyond artificial boundaries?

A student who was Jewish asked me on an Ash Wednesday if he could wish me a happy Lent. I said that Lent leads to Easter, our Passover, like his, our entry into true freedom. “So then,” he said, “Happy Lent.”

To all: “Happy Lent.”

Fr. John Milton, C.S.V. served as Physics instructor at Saint Viator High School for more than 20 years.