Jesus’ Initial Public Offering

“Repent for the Kingdom of God is at Hand”

The Gospel reading for the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time depicts Jesus’ move from Nazareth, after the arrest of St. John the Baptist, to a place called Galilee, to begin his preaching about the imminence of the Kingdom of God.  A reading from the text from St. Matthew brings to mind a similarity between Jesus’ unveiling of his Kingdom with the steps needed to launch a new company by putting into motion the plan for an initial public offering to prospective shareholders. 

First, Jesus selects the place where the new public offering will have its headquarters. The place selected was Galilee, more specifically, Capernaum.  An interesting place to pick because it was highly fertile, scattered with numerous large villages and open to the wider world. The sea of Galilee, nearly seven‑hundred feet below sea level, is 13 miles long and 8 miles wide. Around its shores were large towns, and the gathering place for fishermen.

The word Galilee means “ring”, and indeed it was. To the North, there were the Phoenicians, to the East resided the Syrians, and to the South were the Samaritans. Whatever happened in Galilee was known to the surrounding cultures. The people “walking in the darkness” would hear the news and the gossip of the light. His potential audience was large, the message would go out to Jews and Gentiles alike.   

Next, Jesus would have to assemble his work force. He initially chose two disciples who were found in a place where fisherman would reside.  “As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.” Two helpers weren’t enough, so he came upon two others, James and John, also fisherman, and invited them to part of the public offering.

With the location set and a skeleton crew assembled, Jesus then had to come up with a tagline for his pitch. He chose,  “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  At first blush, not hardly a tagline anyone would imagine as a winning slogan, but would later prove to be the best tagline in history, bar none. Who gets excited about repenting, no one, unless the repenting leads to climbing out of the darkness into the light of life.

It is often said the first rule of marketing is to bring to mind a person’s problem and then give them the opportunity to solve their problem with a product or path to follow. Take for example the problem of dull or yellowing teeth. The toothpaste companies remind the consumer of their problem—less than socially accepted white teeth. Ah, says the manufacturer, the problem can be solved using our ‘new, ‘extra- whitening’ and ‘enamel building’ paste created just for you. Only with the new product can you start having dazzling white teeth of your own.

Unlike the dubious claims of manufacturers or a snake oil salesman, the urging to repent is no scam, but the only way in which those in darkness can, and will, see a great light. For those in darkness who had seen the light, Jesus’ public offering had many five-star reviews. “He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.”

The cured disease (the literally meaning is without ‘ease’) which has plague humanity from the moment sin entered into the world, is a gaping hole, a problem which cannot be solved by any human invention or product. It is such a problem because it is the only real existential question people face, or will ever face. The question of whether my life continuing past death, my death. It forever haunts unbelievers and forces them to seek out remedies which will eliminate their disease. The tough truth is there is no human remedy to this fear, no human solution to even treat the symptoms of the malady. The only solution to cure disease is to repent and be a part of the presence of life itself—a member of the Kingdom of God. And the only way to be a part of the Kingdom of God is to repent from old noneffective solutions and accept the new, repenting and uniting with God. But old habits die hard.

There are those who try and squash the desire to live forever by the exhausting search to accumulate power and money. Those solutions always have an expiration date. No one leaves the earth a rich man, in terms of money or power.

For those who try and sooth their anxieties by attempting to follow the lead of those who tell you it is your gender which is the source of your disease. Their solution is to convince you by changing your identity, then can you find the peace you are searching for. What they don’t tell you is by denying God’s creative power and ignoring natural law never brings relief, it only heightens the disease.

Some try and mask their disease with alcohol or drugs; running from their existential question by obliterating their consciousness, only to be caught by the grim reaper who has already taken hundreds of thousands now dying from fentanyl and other drug overdoses. 

Then there are those who have placed all of their hopes and efforts in saving the planet, they too will perish long before the earth ceases to be. Not exactly what you have in mind to cure your fears.

To all those on depression and anxiety medications. This solution doesn’t work either because the chemicals you call medicine, just work on your symptoms, not the underlying disease plaguing you. 

Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” If, finally, after having lived through so many disappointments and empty promises and fraudulent human cures, seek the real healing qualities of repentance. Repentance is not a hollow word or sentiment; it has the full backing of God who died and rose from the dead. Repentance comes first, then comes salvation. The only real solution to the problem of disease and death.

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