Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
Jesus' first public proclamation is "Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!" (Matthew 4:17). It's significant that when God becomes man, His first word to us is not, "Keep it up!" or "What do you think?" but "Repent!" Many people are put off by that, as they would be by a total stranger walking up and saying, "Stop it!" But then, Jesus is not a total stranger. He knows us better than anybody, which is why his first word is "Repent!" Not one of us can hear that word with an ounce of reflection and not immediately recognize those things of which we need to repent. That's why we reflect so rarely. It's also why something like the Rosary (which places us into a regular routine of reflection instead leaving us to "get around to it" like teenagers promising to clean their rooms) is a good thing. For the good news is that Jesus didn't come to depress us with the fact that there's plenty wrong with us. He came to deliver us from the sins he called us to see and repent of. Today, Lord, help me hear the voice of Jesus and repent. He will surely forgive and deliver us from all sin.