On Repentance

17 March 2021

My Christian brothers and sisters, what will become of our sins, the multitude of our great sins? With those we committed when we were young and those when we were grown. And even in old age we don’t abandon vile sin. And if you think about it, sin’s a terrible thing because it blemishes our beautiful soul; it takes away our joy and makes us sad; and, worst of all, it separates us from God. But I have to tell you that you should be happy, because the cure has been found for the soul that’s sinned and it washes and cleanses it of the ugliness of sin. And this remedy is the blood of Christ! Indeed. Christ’s death on the Cross was a sacrifice for the remission of our sins: ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us of all sin’ (1 Jn. 1, 7). Had Christ’s blood not been shed, we wouldn’t have been able to erase any transgression, not even a white lie, however much we tried. Let me say again: ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us of all sin’.

On our part, what’s required for the remission of our sins is repentance. Repentance means that we humbly accept  that we’re to blame for what we’ve done, that we’re guilty, that we shouldn’t have done it and that, if we’re tempted again in similar circumstances, we won’t do it again. As we can see, repentance requires humility, because egotists can’t say ‘I’ve sinned’. But repentance isn’t ‘OK, I sinned’; it’s a feeling of profound pain at having broken God’s law, at the fact that God told us not to do something and we went ahead and did it anyway, in direct opposition to His all-holy will. That’s a terrible thing! And this feeling makes us shed tears, the blessed tears of repentance.

But the kind of repentance we see in the lives of the saints, with sighs and groaning doesn’t exist among us today, or is very rare. And so, my friends, what will happen? Without repentance we won’t be saved? No. Because without repentance, the fact that Jesus Christ was crucified isn’t enough. Our repentance is essential. As someone so beautifully and correctly put it, the flinty hardness called ‘sin’ is eroded by a mixture of two drops: one drop is the blood of Christ; the other is a tear of the sinner.

Since repentance is so necessary for our salvation- and our salvation is everything- let’s make sure that we repent, truly and properly. Let’s not delude ourselves and take care of other things while ignoring the main issue, which is repentance for our sins. Lots of Christians today experience utter exhaustion from their missionary work, from their pilgrimage trips, from carrying out charitable works, but it appears from their disappointing behavior that they haven’t learned the lesson of repentance at all. It’s obvious from their demeanor and even their words that they haven’t learned, that is, that they don’t live their repentance.

In the first place, those who really live their repentance, not merely in a superficial way, never condemn another person. The pain over their own sins prevents them from judging others. Besides, those who are really living their repentance don’t talk about their activities, advertising them in bulky tomes in which they present themselves to the best possible advantage. And, to tell you a third characteristic, those who are truly repentant continually condemn themselves  for their actions. They aren’t upset when others condemn them even if they do so on the basis of lies. Because they say: ‘Even if the charges are lies, we have so many other, secret sins that other people don’t know about. It’s good that they condemn us: we do one thing and are punished for another’.

My Christian brothers and sisters, let us ask Our Lady the Mother of God to give us repentance. We should certainly go to a confessor to confess our sins. Not for him to read a prayer for us but to confess our sins. We’ll be punished, not because we sinned, but because we didn’t repent.