For last few weeks the media informed us about controversial bank bonuses. Astonishment, bitterness, resentment and anger roused among many ordinary people struggling for living. The top bankers seem to be the only people in the UK unaware of austerity. Apparently the only driving force of that system is a rampant lust for money. One of the arguments raised to defend those huge bonuses is keeping those high-skilled experts in our banks. But after watching a documentary about the banking system on the BBC I‘ve been disillusioned – bank’s quick profit is their only goal.
The call of Jesus in today’s gospel seems to be very relevant nowadays: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand’. The English translation of this phrase is misleading, especially the first word. English to repent means: to feel remorse; be contrite; show penitence’ (Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus). But the Greek, original word metanoeite has a different and richer meaning: ‘change the way you think, change your minds’. As English repent suggests acting in some negative way, so the Greek word supposes an intellectual effort of revising my own way of life, attitudes, habits, values and so on. Repentance might be a result of that revision, but not necessarily.
The second part of this call usually is regarded as concerning the end of time, Doomsday or some such spectacular event. And because after 2000 years the world still exists, this announcement is hardly treated serious. But that interpretation is wrong. Jesus speaks about it in the gospel of St Luke: ‘The coming of the kingdom of God doesn’t admit of observation and there will be on one to say, “Look here! Look there!” For, you must know, the kingdom of God is among you’. The kingdom of heaven isn’t any visible, touchable structure. It’s a state of mind. I hope now we understand this appeal better
Jesus’ appeal in today’s gospel is relevant always, because none of us is as perfect in love that we can’t be better. Our deep built-in selfishness demands a constant effort of overcoming it by self-limitation, service and love. If every one of us changes our own selves the world around us has a chance to be a little better place to live in.