Thinking Again about Repentance

Are you sure you have repented? Think again!

Only a few weeks ago, many of us were signed with ashes with the words, “repent and believe in the Gospel.” What went through your mind when you heard these words?

‘Repentance’ often signifies a certain disappointment or sorrow over sins, and this sense is present in the Old Testament, as when someone repents in sackcloth and ashes. In the New Testament, however, and the precise context (Mark 1:15) from which the phrase above is taken, the Greek word for ‘repent’ is metanoia, which is literally ‘to think again,’ or ‘to change one’s mind’ (meta = afterward + noeo = to think).

The Church in her wisdom is reminding us once more to think again of where we stand in relation to the Gospel—the Good News. What does the Gospel, the Good News, really mean to you personally? This is very different from having “head knowledge” of the Gospel. If you’re a long-time churchgoer, it might be easy to rattle off a pretty decent explanation of what the Gospel is.

However, even if you are already baptized and profess your belief in the Gospel every Sunday, I invite you during this season to think again about how deeply you believe in the Good News of our salvation in Jesus.

While most of us probably don’t commit grave sins such as perjury or murder, what about the lust, drunkenness, jealousy, or anger that we have been trying to overcome for years? Do we really acknowledge the power of the Savior to free us from these sins? Or do we instead believe it is our own private battle and assume that we are a hopeless case beyond the saving power of God? Sometimes we become a self-fulfilling prophecy, precisely because in our despair we refuse to ask for help! 

Saint Peter Weeping by Luca Giordano c 1700

So, let’s think again: Do we truly believe that the Good News applies even to those hidden and shameful areas which we are most embarrassed and insecure about? Is the Good News merely a tool for getting people baptized in a Church, or do we recognize even now that the Gospel is still Good News for us?

In this season, Jesus calls us to repent—to think again—and to believe the Gospel: We are saved! We are called to repent from our self-reliance and renew our minds towards a more complete trust in God. It is after we believe in Him and follow His ways that He will protect us when we are faced with trials and tribulations and transform these crosses into the very means of our eternal beatitude.

Br. Francis Dominic Nguyen, O.P. | Meet the Brothers in Formation HERE