February 14, 2018, would remain a sad memory for the students, teachers, and parents of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Parkland, Florida. An active shooting event by a former student, Nikolaus Cruz claims the lives of 17 students and leaving others with various degrees of injury. It was sad watching students run for their safety as the suspect sprays bullets with the intention to kill on a holy and joyous day just before the end of the school day.
As investigations trail the dastardly act, many people are speculating and recommending possible factors that could prompt a 19-year-old boy to commit such a heinous crime. Whatever would finally emerge as the reason behind the destructive act, one thing remains basic; something moved him. Put in another way; something drove him into the active shooting that claimed lives and maimed many others physically and emotionally.
Before performing any act, we are often moved or driven by something. The law of causality in philosophy states that whatever moves is moved by another that means nothing happens without a reason or basic motivation. The beginning of the Gospel Reading of this First Sunday of Lent (Mark 1:12-15) tells us that the Holy Spirit drove Jesus Christ into the desert and he remained there for forty days, tempted by Satan. During the Baptism of our Lord, we learn that the heaven opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in the form of a dove (Matt. 3:16). The same Holy Spirit drove (moved) him into the desert for the forty-day period of trial.
After the forty days of fasting and prayers, our Lord Jesus Christ was again moved by the Holy Spirit from the desert into the regions of Galilee to preach. In Luke (4:18), he declares that the Spirit of God is upon him and in the Gospel of today he says: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel”. If we pay attention to what he says, we could discover two important instructions, “repent” and “believe in the Gospel.” Before we look into these, it will fit for us to discover the driving force in our lives. Are you driven by the Holy Spirit, another person’s desire or your bodily desire which is at war with the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-22)?
Repentance and belief in the Gospel are decisions we are invited to take but we cannot just decide without the proper motivation, and there cannot be proper motivation except we understand that without the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives we can do nothing. The word of God tells us that the Holy Spirit, is our Helper (John 14:26; Romans 8:26) and He would convict us of sin because of our unbelief (John 16:8-9). The Holy Spirit cannot also force Himself upon us; we need to be open to and ask for His presence in our lives (Luke 11:13).
We all need repentance in our lives, put in another way, each of us has something to repent from though some of us think that they are righteous and do not have any need nor room for repentance. To repent, we need to be humble as true repentance is impossible without humility. This period of Lent is good enough for us to examine our lives and not the lives of others as most of us do. Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us to remove the plank in our eyes so that we can see very well before we could remove the speck in our neighbor’s eyes (Matt. 7:5). Take some time and x-ray your life there should be an area of repentance in your life; this is the time to relent and repent. True repentance invites us to fast from sin and to resist the devil (James 4:7).
To believe, we need to unfreeze our minds from our false convictions and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us (John 14:26; Neh.9:20). Often, we rationalize and negotiate the word of God to favor us and our desires. To believe in the Gospel entails dropping our will to accept and do the will of God through His words. May the season of Lent help us to open our minds to listen to the word of God and receive the message in a more personal way. May each day in the forty days of the Lenten period take us closer to God as we repent and believe.
Have a blessed Sunday and more glorious Sunday of Lent.