Now that Lent is over and we are celebrating Easter, Jesus has a special message that has to do with ... repentance! We normally associate this topic with Lent, but when the Lord appeared to His disciples after the Resurrection, as related in today's Gospel (Luke 24: 35-48 ), He instructed them that they were to preach "repentance, for the forgiveness of sins. It seems that it is not just a topic to be considered during Lent, but one we should reflect on every day. And what is this repentance He wants?
Repenting is more than just being sorry for our sins. It involves a change in the way we are doing things. If we say we are sorry and continue to do the same things, we have not repented only apologized. And how sincere is the apology if we do not take steps to correct the poor behavior? Repentance means we have to not only acknowledge our sins, but commit ourselves to change and not repeat it. This is only possible is we have a plan. The plan needs to contain strategies to alter the way we react to temptations. You see, the devil knows our weaknesses, and desires to use that knowledge to tempt us with what is easiest. Indeed, the greatest triumph for the devil is when we speak about "bad habits" rather than sin. We somehow do not think we have to worry about a bad habit, and so we fail to recognize the sinful actions we take. After all, everyone has some bad habits, don't they?
What the devil wants us to consider bad habits, God considers sin. And until we call it be it's proper name, we will never truly repent. So step one is naming our sins. Next,m we need to devise a plan to try and change our reaction to those temptations from one that falls into a sinful pattern to something different. These "occasions of sin" can be changed into "occasions of grace" if we try. For example, if you have a "bad habit" (Sin) of losing your patience when someone is driving in an erratic way, perhaps you can look at it differently. Could it be that God is trying to get you to pray for that person in that moment? And if you begin to think about each of these situations as though God was trying to get you to pray, your prayer life will certainly change for the better. Once you begin to pray for that person, two things can happen. You are not as likely to become impatient with someone you are remembering in prayer, and also your prayers just might be the means by which they begin to drive in a more responsible way. So, you can begin to change this occasion of sin into an occasion of grace.
As you consider your own areas of sin, I am sure you can find ways to try and repent of these also. The hardest part is beginning. So how about if we all try together. Let's begin to live this Easter message of Jesus. Let's begin to repent!