Ps 117 R/. Go into all the world and proclaim the good news.
Heb 12:5-7, 11-13
‘Kerygma’. How many of you have heard this word before? Kerygma is a Greek word that we use to describe the content, or the heart, of the Gospel, the Good News.
The kerygma — it’s a noun — can be summed up as this: ‘We are sinners, condemned to death for our sins. But God loves us, so He sent His Son Jesus to free us from our sins. Jesus died our death on the Cross, redeeming us from our sins, and offers forgiveness to all who repent’.
You’ll notice that the kerygma isn’t just the heart of the Gospel, it’s also s good summary of the whole Bible, of the whole of salvation history. And so, while it’s an ancient Greek word, it really is one with which every Christian should be familiar. That’s why I’m introducing it to you today, but also because it’s a word we’re going to hear a lot more often in our Parish as we embark on the Alpha experience this coming program year. And while Alpha won’t start until October, our readings this Sunday already point us to the content of this word.
In our first reading, Isaiah prophesies how the Lord will declare His glory among the nations (Is 66:19), not only by bringing His own people back to Jerusalem, but others, too, whom He will also call His own. Through the faithful remnant, the survivors, God will make His name and glory know to all. This is the great message of hope that salvation isn’t just for the Jews, but for all nations, for all peoples, for all sinners.
The Psalm refrain reminds us that it’s our mission as Christians, as God’s people, to make this message know to others: Go into all the world and proclaim the good news.
The second reading reminds us that God sees us not as His possession, but as His children: the Lord disciplines those whom He loves, and chastises every child whom He accepts (Heb 12:6). And that He heals us precisely through the discipline that He gives us. This is the role of His laws and commands.
That’s why in the Gospel today, Jesus tells us that people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God (Lk 13:29). This is our hope, that God loves us and comes to save us.
But only those who accept the kerygma, the Good News, the forgiveness that Jesus offers, will be able to enter the Kingdom of God. That’s why Jesus encourages us to [s]trive to enter through the narrow door (Lk 13:24).
And the narrow door is the Cross of Christ, which calls us to repentance and to a change of life. That’s why the kerygma is more than just a word, more than just a message, but is truly Good News that calls us to a transformation of heart, mind and life.
Since we’ve been purchased by God through the death of His Son, we’re no longer our own; we’re His. And the transformation of life this calls for is more than just accepting the Good News, more than just accepting Jesus as our Saviour once for all. Rather it’s a constant accepting of this unmerited gift of God’s love, a constant repentance for our sins, and a constant turning to Jesus in prayer to seek His assistance and grace to remain faithful to the gift He’s given us from the Cross.
As we heard in the Gospel, saying we follow Jesus isn’t a guarantee of salvation; Baptism isn’t a guarantee of salvation, but only fidelity to Jesus. Notice how it was only those who followed the owner into the house or those who went in seeking him that were accepted in; those who lingered behind or hung around outside the door were locked out and rejected by the owner.
My brothers and sisters, yes, Jesus loves us; yes, He died for us; yes, He calls us to be His disciples, but for our part we must actually follow Him and walk in His ways. We must respond to His invitation, accept His gifts, and allow the Holy Spirit to change our hearts and souls in order to inherit the Kingdom that God extends to us.
Through grace, through discipline and through repentance, may we be found worthy to enter into the Kingdom. Amen.