THIRD WEEK IN LENT
with Humility...the Only Way to Live
In Greek, the word for repentance is metanoia, a whole new way of understanding how Christians are invited to share in the life of Christ. For starters, it means to stop, turn around and head in the opposite direction of wherever our current path is leading us. Far too often we find ourselves headed in a direction that keeps God and our neighbor at our backs, and not in a good way! Metanoia requires that we stop, turn around and begin walking the path that draws us nearer to our Savior.
The primary aspect of repentance is that in turning back toward God, we are surrendering our will to the will of God, necessarily allowing the Holy Spirit to change us from the inside out. Too often we carelessly seek forgiveness without any thought for actually being changed or transformed by the Holy Spirit. Humble repentance enables us to continue our faith journey, being conformed daily to the likeness of Christ.
Another important aspect of turning back toward God is that it allows us to actually see and recognize that many others are headed in a direction away from God as well. Being awakened, we can invite others headed down the broad road of destruction to, "stop!" Engaging in honest and vulnerable conversation with those we meet, provides an opportunity to become companions on the way just as the first disciples of Jesus accompanied and witnessed to others about his life, death and resurrection. The best disciples are those who have experienced first hand the unmerited grace of a loving, compassionate and merciful God.
It is in our relationships with one another that repentance bears the most fruit. Dying to ourselves, we repent of our pride that keeps us from owning our sinfulness and acknowledging the harm we have caused to a fellow sojourner. As Christians, we are called to confess our sins to one another, always being eager to reconcile our differences. If we have harmed someone, repentance calls us to go to our brother or sister confessing our sin in order that we may seek forgiveness. Of course, all sin is against God, especially when we abuse or neglect one of his children.
While we still were yet sinners, God in Christ Jesus reconciled all people unto God, pouring himself out that all may have life in his name. That being true, repentance also means setting aside our pride when someone betrays, hurts or denigrates us. We are called to make the first move to restore the relationship by granting forgiveness. It doesn't mean that we excuse the wrongful or denigrating actions of the other, but rather that we seek Christ's help in offering forgiveness. In doing so, whether the other person acknowledges the harm they have caused or not, our burden is lifted and a door has been opened.
Most of all, humility reminds us that a repentant heart is the only sacrifice God desires! Dying to ourselves, putting the needs of others ahead of our own, is never easy...but with Christ, all things are possible!