The times in which we live cry out for conversion.
Crisis has become a word to describe our whole way of life. The world appears to be falling apart while social commentators argue the probabilities of which might come first, economic disaster or nuclear destruction. A spirit of fearful insecurity and mass resignation abounds. Young people say that they don't expect to live out their lives, and couples hesitate to bring children into the world. We have become alienated from the poor, from the earth, from the survival of future generations, and, at root, from God.
How we need to be converted, to be turned around! Only a fundamental transformation in the ways we now think and live can provide any basis for hope. Our energies can no longer be directed to fighting for the lesser evils in our public life. Rather, we must devote ourselves to altering the spirit of the age and the framework of our society. Changes in our basic values and assumptions, both personal and corporate, are urgently needed. But how do we break out of the attitudes and habits that control us? How do we chart a new course?
The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned. From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Just as light breaks into the darkness, the kingdom of God has arrived. That is how the prophet Isaiah, quoted here by Matthew, said it would be. The times into which Jesus came were dark indeed. Political domination at the hands of Rome, economic oppression by the rich, and human sinfulness on every side--these were the experiences of the common people. But where there was no light, God's new order would shine for all to see in the person of Jesus Christ. No wonder the word gospel means "good news"! The people had been waiting for a long time.