The Kingdom of God Is at Hand — Repent, and Believe in the Gospel
We do not know the Last Day. But we do know that we must prepare for Christ’s glorious return every day by our fidelity to the work of his grace within our hearts. That is enough for us.
The following homily was given by Cardinal Raymond Burke at a Mass Jan. 24 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin:
Praised be Jesus Christ!
The heart of the Gospel, which God the Son announced by his coming in our human nature is the truth of his coming and the only fitting response on the part of man: repentance of sins committed and belief in him alive in our midst. With the redemptive Incarnation, God’s promise of salvation was fulfilled. When, in justice, God expelled our first parents from the Garden of Eden because of their grievous sin of pride, of pretending to take the place of God, he promised our salvation. He spoke these words to the Evil One who, in the form of a serpent, had led Adam and Eve into their great fall: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Matthew, 3:15).
From the moment of the Immaculate Conception of the woman, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, God the Father prepared her to conceive in her womb God the Son by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit and to bring him incarnate into the world at Bethlehem. Her Immaculate Conception and his virginal conception and birth brought to fulfillment the promise of salvation, for, while Satan would strike at the heal of the Divine Son of the Virgin Mary, God the Son Incarnate would crush Satan’s head with his heel. By his Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension, God the Son has won the final victory over Satan, which will reach its consummation at his Second Coming on the last day.
Until the last day, Satan tirelessly tries to beguile souls, tempting them into sin, so that he can destroy them. St. Peter, in exhorting the shepherds of the flock to fulfill their sacred mission, tells them:
Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you (1 Peter 5:8-10).
We, before Christ, recognize both whom God has called us to be, sons and daughters in God the Son, and our sin, our betrayal of our true identity, and, therefore, we are full of repentance, confident in God’s unfailing mercy.
Thus, the words with which Christ first announced the Gospel, at the beginning of his public ministry, are the program of our lives:
“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
Yes, Satan continues to pursue us, but we belong to Christ and, if we are true to Christ’s grace dwelling in our hearts, he always conquers Satan.
In announcing the Gospel, Our Lord immediately began to call the Apostles who would act in his person as “fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). They would, by the Apostolic ministry, rescue men from the snares of Satan and give them life through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit from Christ’s glorious pierced heart. Thus, we understand the exhortation of St. Peter to the other shepherds of souls. Our shepherds in the Church are constantly and steadfastly to protect us against the manifold deceptions of the Evil One, “a liar and the father of lies” and “a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44), while they are leading us to Christ who alone is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). So, we have prayed in the Responsorial Psalm:
“Make me know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long” (Psalm 25: 4-5).
As in the time of the Prophet Jonah, even more so in this time of the fulfillment of the promised salvation, when God sees “how [we] have turned from [our] evil way,” he has mercy upon us (3:10).
We live in times when it can seem that the Evil One is succeeding in his program of lies and death. In our own nation, the federal government wants to codify as law the totally unjust decision of the Supreme Court, which made legal abortion on demand, and to impose upon schools the teaching of the iniquitous gender theory. At the same time, it threatens to deny the freedom of religion, the freedom of citizens to follow God’s plan for the world and for man, inscribed in nature itself and written upon every human heart. In the face of such seemingly ineluctable developments, we are tempted to discouragement and even to the abandonment of the battle against the Evil One and his program of lies and murder. But Christ is with us to win the battle, if only we engage it, yes, with our seemingly little and insignificant forces. Our weak and poor hearts, united to the royal heart of Christ the King, become strong and rich for the transformation of our homes and, thus, of our neighborhoods, our nations, and our world.
We do not know when Christ will return in his glory. We do not know the Last Day. But we do know that we are called every day to prepare for it by our fidelity to the work of Christ’s grace within our hearts. That is enough for us. We know, as St. Paul teaches us, “For the form of this world is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:31). We also know and trust the word of Christ:
“Heaven and earth will pass away; but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).
Thus, we must always be of good courage, of good heart, in the sacred heart of Jesus. …
Let us now unite our hearts, one with the immaculate heart of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to the sacred heart of Jesus in his Eucharistic sacrifice. Let us give our hearts completely to him, embracing the cross, so that our hearts may be filled with sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit, with the courage and strength to engage the daily battle by which Christ wins in us the victory over sin and death, over Satan and his agenda of lies and murder. Especially, in these most troubled times for the world and for the Church, may we trust in the promise of salvation and thus be, in Christ, beacons of hope for all whom we meet. Let us live, trusting in the Word of Christ to us: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who trust in Thee, have mercy on us.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America and Star of the New Evangelization, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, Protector of holy Church, pray for us.
Saint Juan Diego, pray for us.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
- Preaching of the Kingdom of God and the Call to Repentance
- Last Judgment