Great Lent - A Time For Repentance
Repentance has its roots in the apostles. In the Book of Acts the Apostle Peter says, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:37-38)
When we fall away from God, we have removed ourselves from His communion – with Him and with other Christians. We have excommunicated ourselves. To re-enter communion with God is the on-going activity of all Christians. We fall away daily in some way or another. No one is exempt.
Often, when children play in competitive games, one will call out “that’s a do over!” Haven’t we all wished for that chance to undo the past and start over? Repentance offers us this new beginning.
We are telling God that we have changed our mind about our past direction and want to be back in communion with Him. The Greek work for repentance, metanoia, implies a very deep change in the way we see ourselves, our world, and our relationship to God. To change our mind in repentance is the starting point in our Lenten journey. We leave behind regret as we move toward hope. Repentance is not a single action but an attitude, a frame of mind.
Think back over your life of things which you regret having said or done – hurtful, inconsiderate, selfish, deceitful. Think also of those things which you have done which may not have directly affected others, but which you know to be wrong according to the teachings of the Church. Bring them to mind as if they were occurring right now. Think of how it would have been if you had acted differently. Take this regret and turn it into repentance. Acknowledge that you have offended another person or the Church, and in doing so you have offended God.
If we are to be forgiven by God, He requires of us that we also forgive one another. For many of us, this is the most difficult aspect of repentance and confession. Yet we say it each time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Just as God’s love for us is personal, so must ours be for Him. As the Christian grows from child to adult, his or her personal response to God becomes crucial. This personal response is asking God for forgiveness.
– Fr. Bill Tragus is the pastor of Saint Basil Greek Orthodox Church in San Juan Capistrano.