Headline: Repentance: Be Sorry Enough to Quit

Posted on: 2014-05-13

The call to Repentance

Some spiritual masters teach that the main message of New Testament scripture is repentance. The giants of the New Testament John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth, Simon Peter, and Paul of Tarsus all preached their first sermons on repentance. “From that day Jesus began to proclaim the message: Repent for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand” (Matt. 4:17). The Catechism of the Catholic Church CCC speaks of repentance in terms of “conversion”, a turning around from being one things and becoming another, a transformation a  change. “Christ’s call to conversion to resound in the lives of Christians. This second conversion is an uninterrupted task for the whole Church…at once holy and always in need of purification, and follows constantly the path of penance and renewal…Jesus look of infinite mercy drew tears of repentance from Peter and, after the Lord’s resurrection, a threefold affirmation of love for him. The second conversion also has a communitarian dimension as is clear in the Lord’s call to the Church: ‘Repent’ (CCC 1428-1429.  The call to repentance never goes out of fashion but is relevant at every age changing the lives of real people.

The woman of ill repute

One spectacular individual who showcased the power of repentance was Mary Magdalene whose memorial is celebrated in the Church like that of all the great saints. This great saint who was a major actor in salvation history after the resurrection of Jesus was as human as any human being can be and even more. The gospel of Luke spoke about some women who followed Jesus, “who had been healed of evil spirit and diseases; Mary called Magdalene, who had been freed of seven demons” (Lk 8:2). Note that this woman, of all those who followed Jesus, was specially mentioned here for the uncomplimentary reason of being possessed by seven demons. Some interpret her demons as the seven mortal sins of Christendom. Some woman indeed! 

The turn-around person

Yet Mary Magdalene, through her encounter with Jesus, went from being a mobile warehouse of demons to being one of those who stood at the foot of Jesus’ cross in John’s gospel and even better (Jn.19:25). She it was who went to the tomb of Jesus on the very first day after his crucifixion, when it was still dark and saw the stone blocking his tomb which had been moved away (Jn 20:1). In tears because of her love for Jesus, she not only became the first woman to whom Jesus appeared after his resurrection, she also became the first evangelist who went to tell the disciples: “I have seen the Lord” (Jn. 20: 1-18). It is for this special role that she has often been called by many, “apostle to the apostles”

Scale those hurdles too

It would be wrong to think that Mary Magdalene came this far with no difficulty on her part whatsoever. In fact she faced her own fair share of personal troubles too in her different appearances (Mk. 14:5, Jn 12: 3).The way of holiness is often the way of renunciation, suffering and weakness. This woman who poured the precious oil on the head of Jesus did not often get applauded for her action but rather was derided and criticized. In the world of today so many crave that healing encounter with Jesus but are at pains to find it. How their lives would be totally transformed if they did, and the world around them too! It is precisely for that task that Jesus called disciples unto himself (Mk. 1:17) and then sent them out to make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19). Those disciples must be the “Jesuses” who walk the streets today and who, encountering others drive out their demons and securing their freedom and healing. Could it be that today’s disciples are not living up to that responsibility? The world is still full of modern day “Magdalenes”. Heaven desires that they meet modern “Jesuses” and be transformed. For “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety nine  decent people who do not need to repent” (Lk 15:7). Would you, dear Christian be one of them?

Be sorry enough

If the fruits of the death and resurrection of Jesus are to benefit all peoples and nations they must be helped to embrace the message of repentance. The scripture confirms this, “In his name repentance, bringing the forgiveness of sins, is to be proclaimed to all nations. Begin from Jerusalem; it is you who are the witnesses to it all (Lk. 24:47-48). Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, those approved and yet to be approved, practically all harp on the importance of repentance for humanity to win the favor of God. Unrepentant humanity is humanity on the death row for repentance is the only way that genuine renewal can occur. As the story goes, a Sunday school teacher asked a class what the word “repentance” means. A little boy put up his hand and said, “It is being sorry for your sins.” A little girl also raised her hand and said, “It is being sorry enough to quit.” She drove the point home better. Most people in the world today are sorry for their sins alright but they are not sorry enough to quit sinning. If we want a better world, we all must be sorry for our sins enough to quit sinning. That is the bottom line and when you get there, God’s Spirit and His grace will help your effort.