Repentance

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ,
the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ ”
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” (Mark 1:1-14)

For Contemplation

The Hebrew teshuvah (טשובה) and its Greek translation metanoia (μετανοω) are often translated as the English word “repentance.” The English word “repentance,” in current usage, does not always convey the depth of meaning found in the Hebrew and Greek words. Repentance is commonly understood in the context of confessing sins and reaffirmation to live without sin. Metanoia implies “changing one’s mind” and indicates that the call to confess and change includes adopting a change in perspective, a change in attitude, and a change in how we use our minds to guide our living. Teshuvah is a turning of one’s full being—a complete turning of the human being’s consciousness and awareness, one’s full orientation in life, toward God where we always stand “face to face” with God. This is an acknowledgment of God’s presence and includes the understanding that our change includes multiple levels of our being: our mind, our body, our use of knowledge, and our wisdom.

Our change is facilitated by more than simple adherence to rules or commands. Repentance encompasses our internal state of being, our motivation, and our intention—whatever is heartfelt—and all are part of our process.

Prayer

God, you are mercy and compassion incarnate. May the transformation of our being be made complete and may we be made whole by forgiveness. Helps us to know the meaning of being made new. Let the process of our turning toward you mean that our whole being comes face to face with your love. Amen.