REPENTANCE, A GREAT OPPORTUNITY
“Then he began to upbraid the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.’” (Mt 11: 20-24)
In our Church’s reading for today, the Lord reminds me of the great opportunity we are given, in the era of the Church, – an opportunity not given to the ancient, heathen cities that hadn’t seen “His mighty works,” – to “repent” (i.e., to change our “minds” or our focus) on a daily basis, and follow Him. In our beautiful Tradition, I have a variety of tools that I can pick up daily, like the nurturing word of God, like prayer, fasting, and contemplation, like the fellowship or communion of the saints, throughout the invigorating cycle of feasting and fasting of our Church calendar. These “tools” help me to replace fear with faith, and meaninglessness with purpose, on the light-bringing, cross-carrying Way that’s been paved for us by Christ.
As I start my day on this third Wednesday of the Apostles’ Fast, let me not approach my responsibilities and challenges alone, because I don’t have to. I have a com-passionate Companion, able and willing to be there with me, whenever I (re)focus on Him. Let me open my heart to Him in a bit of prayer, in gratitude and “repentance,” replacing self-reliance with God-reliance, and self-justification with handing judgment over to Him. “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” Lord, “and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Amen!