Spiritually, we are at our most healthy when we are able to recognize that sin has the debilitating outcome of creating a chasm or wedge of separation between God and God’s beloved children.
We all know that as hard as we try to be good, follow God’s commands, and act in accordance with God’s will for us, we fall short of the mark. This is why repentance is such a valuable gift. When we admit that we have sinned and ask God for forgiveness, we receive a kind of washing by the power of Jesus’ blood – a washing that brings with it God’s power to change.
We humans are complex creatures and our sins are just as complex. In most situations where sin is involved many different factors are at work. Painful memories from the past, ungodly influences from the world, sensitive family issues, divisions, political, social and economic differences waging unimaginable conflict and confusion, selfishness, pride, irrational thinking, even unhealthy influences may all be involved. The unfortunate tragedy is that we may not be aware of their presence.
The prevailing theme of this season, and more so Holy Week itself, is a focus on God’s invitation to repentance. The power of repentance lies in its capacity to destroy every one of these aforementioned negative influences. Again, scripture is full of encouragement: “if we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Far from being an opportunity for self-condemnation or increased guilt, repentance is meant to be an experience of freedom and liberation by helping to release all the ‘baggage’ surrounding our human weakness and brokenness. God does not only forgive us when we repent; God removes our guilt and lifts any attitude of hopelessness that may have crept in.
The more we desire an intimate relationship with Jesus, the more eagerly the grace of repentance grows in and floods our hearts, drawing us closer and closer to experience and know his love more deeply. This testimony comes from a place of personal conversion and conviction where Christ is known and experienced as the friend who cared enough to stop awhile so that I could get onboard his ‘salvation wagon’.
Finally, God’s grace is always available. He wants to teach and empower us to take control of our minds and actions. To everyone who turns to God, our heavenly Father promises nothing short of divine power. Jesus is always ready to offer forgiveness and power to overcome all our fears.
Beloved, may Holy Week deepen the intimacy of our relationship with Jesus; and in one heart and mind prepare us to celebrate the Paschal Mystery; our Easter joy!