Phew. Today’s readings really pack a punch.
We have Saint John’s very deep and complex words about what it means to live in God alongside the first words spoken publicly by Jesus which also discuss this important theme of what it means to live with God. The words of Jesus are very simple; in order to enter this new kingdom of God we must simply turn from our sins and repent. Something so grand as entering a new kingdom, created by God Himself, by only performing one interior action.
But it is that interior action, that repentance, that is truly more difficult than journeying on pilgrimages, finding animals to sacrifice, performing physical feats, or any other thing we could accomplish. Repentance is an interior, personal, change of the heart. It is so difficult for us because we are human, prone to sin and distracted by pride. Maybe we can turn our hearts for a short while, but all too soon we need to repent again. We can’t live in the new kingdom because of our accomplishments, our money, our outward piety, our completed tasks done according to some divine recipe.
We can only live in the kingdom of God with true, interior repentance. Jesus, through His life, death and resurrection has made this new possible for us, all we need to do is what seems in comparison a paltry hidden choice. But it is not easy. Sometimes we need to repent daily for the same sins we commit over and over again. Or we have to continue to repent for decisions and sins from our distant past, the ramifications of which keep creeping back into our souls trying to snatch back our hearts into darkness.
And when we repent over our small failings or large mistakes, it hurts us. It seems crushing to admit our inadequacy to live a life of love by our own power. We cannot abide in love by relying on our own tiny hearts.
To repent means to turn, to turn to Christ means to make ourselves open to His love, and once we are open to His love we can love others and abide in that love. That is a marvelous and incomprehensible idea, an idea that becomes fact in our lives. We may be impressed by outward signs and miracles, but what really proves that Christ is indeed greater than this world is the gift of love that transforms us each day of our lives—if we only repent and accept that gift.
Can you let go of pride and let yourself admit to being wrong today?
photo by Emily Trutter
Christy Isinger is the mom to five lovely, loud children living in the Canadian wilds. You can find out more about her here.