1 Lent – Year B

Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-9; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15

“You can’t turn back the clock but you can wind it up again.” – Bonnie Prudden

                In this Gospel passage Mark reports Jesus’ very first message as he begins to preach after being baptized and after coming out of the wilderness of temptation.  His message is “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”  He does not say the kingdom “will” come near as if next year, or even only in the afterlife.  He is saying that it is already here in this life (see Greek below).  The word “repent” simply means to turn again.  It could mean to turn from sin.  Perhaps more poignantly in this context it means to turn around and face the kingdom.  You passed it by.  You missed it.  Turn around.  Just turn and look.   We don’t need to die to enter the kingdom.  We just need to swivel around and look.  Often in this world we turn, and what we see are the helpless, the sad, the lonely, the deprived.  Then we are repulsed and disgusted and so we turn away.  Jesus had his temptations in the wilderness.  Maybe this turning a blind eye away from what nauseates us is our temptation.  All through the New and Old Testaments there is a clear message that God dwells in a special way with the marginalized and poor, poor in whatever way.   Jesus was tempted in the wilderness.  This is the wilderness of the deprived, which is God’s kingdom.  So let us not turn away from where God is, dwells, lives, and with whom God weeps.  The kingdom of God is here now.  Even if we have passed it by it is not too late.  The past is the past; but then again we can always rewind the clock.  Jesus was not mistaken.  Let us repent, turn again, and walk into darkness, especially into the darkness of our suffering neighbors.  It will be fine.  Jesus, after being tempted was with wild beasts.  What were the wild beasts doing?  Maybe they were assisting the angels who were waiting on Jesus.  Wild beasts may just be our friends, untamed but so alive.  And we too will be waited on by angels.  It will be fine.  All will be well.  Turn. 

Greek

                Mark 1:15 says “The kingdom of heaven has come near.”  In the original Greek the verb is in what is called the “perfect tense.”  That means that the action expressed in the verb has already taken place in the past and still has ramifications for, or continues into, the present.  In other words, given this Greek form of speech, the kingdom of God has already come and is still here.

Haiku

Ticks clock past God’s reign.

Rewind, repent, and return.

Clock ticks, never late.