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Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus goes into Galilee and begins to preach. The first words out of his mouth, as Mark reports them, serve as a sort of summary statement of his life and work: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

The moment has arrived, the privileged time, the kairos; something that human beings have been longing for and striving after and hoping to see has appeared, and the time is now for a decision, for action. Jesus’ very first words are a wake-up call, a warning bell in the night, a summons to attention. This is not the time to be asleep, not the time to be languishing in complacency and self-satisfaction, not the time for delaying tactics, for procrastination and second guessing.

In the Byzantine liturgy, we find the oft-repeated call to “be attentive,” and in the Buddhist tradition, there is a great emphasis placed on wakefulness. In the fiction of James Joyce, we often find that moments of spiritual insight are preceded by a great thunderclap, the cosmic alarm shocking the characters (and the reader) into wide-awakeness. The initial words of Jesus’ first sermon are a similar invitation to psychological and spiritual awareness: there is something to be seen, so open your eyes!