True Repentance brings God’s Mercy
Readings: 1st: Ex 3, 1-8.13-15; Ps 102; 2nd I Cor 10, 1-6. 10-12; Gos: Lk 13, 1-9
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
On this third Sunday of Lent, the church provides us another moment of grace to straighten us on our journey. Today, we celebrate the Lord who frees us from our slavery to sin if only we listen to His warning to repent. Hence, our central theme today is repentance.
At times, we are tempted to view repentance as something unimportant. On the contrary, it is an essential step to salvation. It is a way through which God mediates his grace to us. Repentance is, feeling sorry for the sin we commit and a firm resolve not to commit it again deliberately. Sincere repentance provokes God’s compassion, mercy, and love.
In our second reading, Paul kindly reminded us of the consequences of deliberately going contrary to God’s will. He carefully traced the death of the Israelites to their inability to please God. That is to say because they sinned against God. Hence, Paul concluded by reminding us that “All these happened as a warning, and was written down to be a lesson for us who are living at the end of the age.” In his letter to the Romans, he puts it directly: “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life” (Rom 6:23.)
In today’s gospel, Jesus was straightforward in his words when he said: “Unless you repent, you will perish.” One might say that this is too harsh to come from Christ, who is merciful and compassionate. The truth is that when Jesus speaks this way, it does not diminish his compassion and mercy. Instead, he does so because he cares for us and sees what we cannot see. He simply warns us of the negative consequences of living a sinful life and wants us to repent and live a better life.
This Sunday, the good news is that we have the opportunity to learn from the failures and consequences of our ancestor’s actions. God gives us another chance to call upon the Lord, who is “merciful, compassionate and love.” Jesus wants us to take a bold and positive step towards amending our way of life. This is a call to repentance for the times we neglected and failed both God and our neighbors; for the times we chose evil over good, and for those moments, we despaired and displayed a remarkable lack of faith in God.
The patient, compassionate and loving Father is ready to welcome us back. Hence, he says to us this season: “If my people, called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then…I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Ch 7, 14). Repentance attracts mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and salvation. It brings about healing and restoration of hope for a better future. So, if we sincerely repent of our sins, God will not only forgive us, but He will heal us.
Finally, compassion (cum passio) means to suffer with and also to love with. Therefore, God’s compassion and mercy for us are always associated with his love. Just as God knew how miserable the Israelites were in Egypt, He knows how pathetic we are under the slavery of sin. He is aware of our enslavement by both habitual sins of omission and commission. He also knows the efforts we are making to live good lives and how we often fail. So, this Lent, Jesus is ready to suffer with us so that we might be free from the slavery of sin. Through our repentance, His compassion, mercy, and love, we would be healed and restored to life this season and beyond.
Peace be with you!