A Call To Repentance – One More Chance!
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the parochial vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details contact him on:firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or +23408063767512
Biodun was a young lad sent to a very good and expensive school to study, but due to youthful exuberance, he neglected his studies for other trivial things on campus. Unfortunately, when his mates were being promoted he was asked to repeat due to his poor academic performance. When the news got to his father he threatened to withdraw Biodun from school for squandering his money. However, Biodun knowing that his father was a man of his words repented of his bad behavior, asked the father for forgiveness and promised to do better in the subsequent academic sessions. Although his father was a die-hard man, he mellowed down and gave him yet another chance to prove himself. Of course, he did prove himself by coming back home with better results. This third Sunday of Lent, the church provides us yet another moment of grace or ample opportunity to help us straighten our already soiled path along the journey of life, faith and salvation. The central theme of this Sunday therefore is REPENTANCE. Most times, whenever this theme is featured either in the scriptures or elsewhere, most people usually associate it with something negative. On the contrary, it is not, because it is actually the stepping stone to a better life or salvation. In this case, it is one way through which as Sacrament in General, the grace of God is mediated.
In the gospel reading of today (Luke 13, 1-9), Jesus did not mince words in telling us that: “unless you repent you will perish”. I suppose you are already saying in your mind, this is too harsh to come from someone who claims to be compassionate and love. However, the question is, is there a better way of saying it? Paul writes in Rom 6, 23 that: “…but the wages of sin is death…” death not only of our physical body but also of our soul. So, when Jesus sounds like this, he does so because he actually cares for us. Not only does he warn us of the negative consequences of living a sinful life but, he wishes that we repent and begin to do better. So today, he calls us to reflect upon our lives as Biodun did, and to take a bold and positive step towards amending our way of life. This is in simple terms, a call to repentance for the many times we have failed not only God, but our fellow human beings; for the times we chose evil in place of good; for those moments we neglected the Jesus present in our neighbours by treating them with scorn. It is a call for repentance for those moments we have despaired and displayed remarkable lose or lack of faith in God.
This Sunday the good news is that we are yet given another moment of grace or opportunity by God through Christ to re-examine our ways, another opportunity to learn our lessons from the deeds of our predecessors and the consequences their actions brought upon them as Paul kindly reminds us in (1Cor 10, 1ff), and of course, another opportunity to call upon the Lord who is compassion and love (Ps. 102, 8). In other words, he is a patient God and ever ready to have us come back to him if only we can realize that we are at a cross road and turn around. All He requires from us therefore, is a commitment by calling on that name that he delights so much in, “I AM” or “ABBA” save me least I perish! If we call upon this compassionate and loving God, he will not only forgive us, but help us live a better life.
Compassion means to suffer with and also to love with (cum passio). Therefore, God’s compassion for us is always associated with his love for us. He knows how miserable our state is under the influence of sin which places us under a heavy burden of slavery as was the case with the Israelites in the first reading of today (Ex. 3, 1ff). So this Lent, as ever before, he extends his gesture and hand of love to us. He is aware of our deplorable state occasioned by different categories of sins and aware of our enslavement by habitual sins, even the sins of omission or commission. Jesus knows that repentance requires lots of courage and humility to embark upon. This is the reason he is ready to give us yet another opportunity to repent and, earnestly waits for us to cry out: “I AM” or “ABBA” save me least I perish!
Peace be with you!