I thought that to complement the Last Words of Jesus, that an interesting devotional or musical exercise would be to meditate on the First Words. In Mark’s Gospel, those words are simple, direct, and challenging:
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.”
In the Rite of Penance, numbers 72 through 83 offer twelve brief citations for the reconciliation of a single penitent. This is RP 75. It’s short, but quite rich.
Jesus offers good news (gospel) to those who will listen. The listener has reached a special moment in time, and is presented with the Reign of God. What is needed? Repentance and belief.
These two things are linked in the first words of Christ according to Saint Mark. Do they link in the life of a believer? I think they should.
What purpose does repentance have if we possess no belief, no faith? Being sorry for wrongdoing may be nothing more than our being caught in the act, then trying to curry favor by making a concession to others. It could be suggested we do so just to receive a kindness in return.
And we can act this way with the Lord, certainly. But Jesus suggests there’s something more to penance than just being sorry. Penance invites and invokes a response of faith. We approach the Lord, contrite for our sins. And what does God offer us in turn? According to Jesus, something a bit more than forgiveness. We are offered fulfillment. We are offered citizenship in the Kingdom of God.
If we are indeed burdened by sin, this is good news indeed. Repent and believe. Christ the King will take care of the rest.