January 22, 2023 – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/012223.cfm)
If and when given another chance in life, would you do it again or would you do it anew? Would you live life as before or much better than before? Surely, if and when given another chance in life, we would hope for life anew than life again, we would aspire to live life much better than before rather than as it was before. We know however that for this hope and aspiration to fulfill, we must change our old ways and try to live life differently as before.
The first call of Jesus is the call to repentance. Jesus began his public mission with an invitation: “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” His preaching begins by calling on all people to repent and embrace the Good News of God’s kingdom. It is easy for us to understand that this call to repentance is directed toward sinners. Even Jesus himself had difficulties to communicate this call to good people than with sinners. Why? Because the hardest people of all to change their ways are the good people. They simply don’t see any need of conversion. They only think that as sick people need healing; only sinners need repentance. But actually the call to repentance is a call for everyone, an invitation for all, good or bad you may be.
For what does repentance mean?
To repent means to feel dissatisfied with oneself and longing for something better with one you have right now. There must be a sense of something is wrong, or at least something is lacking or missing in one’s life – A feeling of discontent with what is happening with one’s life. To repent is not only to be sorry for what we have done but also what we have failed to do for our lives. Usually repentance begins in the realization that we are not what we could or should be; or we are not what we choose to be and supposed to be. Repentance then is borne out our longing for a much better life than as it is now.
To repent would also demand openness, honesty, and above all courage with oneself – Courage to put on end to self-deception, and courage to confront painful self-reality. Surely, it takes a lot of courage for a person to line up for confession, admitting one’s guilt, asking forgiveness, and resolving to change. And sometimes, it is easy to be sorry for one’s sins than to admit mistake, saying: “I sorry, but…”. It is more difficulty to admit one’s mistake or shortcoming, “ I am wrong..” than to ask forgiveness, “I am sorry”. Repentance then is to take responsibility for your own being wrong, unwell and lacking.
To repent is to make a decision to conversion that is to change oneself. And to make such decision is not an easy task, for it entails a lot of responsibilities. Human as we are, we do tend to pass the bucket to others. As much as possible, we tend to escape from making a stance or commitment. We rather blame others for the faults, which we should have been ours to make. However, whatever your decision today, whether to choose life or death, to help or exploit oneself or others, to do good or evil deeds, to accept responsibility or blame others, mirrors your very own identity, your conviction and commitment as human persons. As the saying goes, “Kon gusto mo ng pagbabago sa buhay, umpisahan mo sa sarili mo. If you long for change and a better life, begin with oneself. Conversion, Renewal or Redemption starts with oneself.
In as much as it is a heavy task to take or a rough road to travel, repentance is a very positive experience. True, to repent is to admit that all is not well with oneself and to change oneself. But to repent is also to discover something new and wonderful about oneself. It means opening up and acquiring new vision, seeing wider perspective, opening up others options and possibilities, challenging one’s values, not being tied up with biases and prejudices and seeing things anew. In other words, it opens up the way to a new life – to the kingdom of heaven at hand. Repentance could be an exciting and joyful adventure to follow Jesus.
This is what repentance did to the apostles when they responded to Jesus’ call for repentance. Inasmuch as it staggered them from their old convictions, confronted themselves, left their nets and followed him, it offered them also a new heaven and a new earth, the Kingdom of God – a new hope in life.
Remember: Faith requires repentance, because to repent is to change our ways, our lifestyle and be converted towards the Lord’s way. To change is to grow. To grow is to live life to its fullness. And to live life is to believe in the Lord’s offer of eternal life.
By the way, in life we don’t live once. We die once in life. We live life everyday. So we are given everyday always a chance to live life anew and not just again, better than just same as before.
As the Lord lives with us and we live with Him, may His offer of God’s kingdom dwelling in us be responded by our genuine conversion and repentance as well as by our discipleship. Amen.