Continuing need for repentance and conversion

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

WE have to realize that we always need repentance and conversion. We have to be wary of the danger of feeling we are all ok just because we think we are already doing a lot of good things and have in fact in some cases entered into some forms of commitment to stay clean in our moral life.

This continuing need for repentance and conversion was somehow expressed by Christ when he said, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.

“And as for you, Capernaum: Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the nether world. For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. (Mt 11,22-23)

As that gospel narrates, Christ reproached the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. This has also led him to say in another part of the gospel that “tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.” (Mt 21,31-32)

For us to develop a keen sense of our constant need for repentance and conversion, we really would need to develop a deep sense of our need for God. Truth is we have a strong tendency to simply be on our own, especially when realize that there is something good going in us. Such tendency is a sweet poison that deadens our need for repentance and conversion.

We have to understand that conversion is a continuing affair for all of us in this life. We are all sinners, St. John said. And even the just man, as the Bible said, falls seven times in a day.

Besides, it is this sense of continuing conversion that would really ensure us that whatever we do, whatever would happen to us, including our failures and defeats, would redound to what is truly good for the parties concerned and for everybody else in general.

That’s because conversion brings us and everything that we have done in life to a reconciliation with God, from whom we came and to whom we go.

In one of the post-resurrection appearances of Christ to his apostles, that time when it was said that Christ “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,” our Lord told them clearly:

“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Lk 24,46-47)

Yes, repentance for the forgiveness of sins has to be preached far and wide and constantly. These words show how much Christ is bent in saving us, in bringing us to our true dignity of a functioning child of God. This is his will for us. We just have to learn to correspond to that will, which is actually for our own true good!