We continue to celebrate Easter day and the readings today point to something important: Repentance. The First Reading tells us when Peter had finished preaching in Pentecost, people asked him: What should we do? Peter said Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him. This is a lot to take in so we will break this. Peter’s first word is Repent. This repentance is a turning around, like when we are walking and are lost, we need to turn back and go to the right path. When we sin, we walk away from the path God wants us to walk. Repentance is to turn back from where we are, back to the road of God.
We cannot receive God’s forgiveness if there is no repentance. People may ask: what about what Jesus said on the cross: Father forgive them for they know not what they do. While it is true, the forgiveness has been given on the cross, BUT we need to receive that forgiveness. Repentance is our way of receiving the forgiveness of God. Without repentance, that forgiveness is of no use to us, because we still live in our sins.
Peter said repentance allows us to receive the Holy Spirit. Without repentance, the Holy Spirit will not come because whether we believe it or not, whether we like it or not, God will not dwell in us if we are in a state of sin. Psalm 5:4 tells us: for you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. We cannot expect God’s forgiveness unless we repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus. The word baptized also means immersed. The Sacrament of Baptism frees us from sins. But that is a physical act done only once. The spiritual reality of Baptism is we are immersed into the life of God. This means our life should be filled with the holiness of God so the Spirit can dwell in us.
We may have received baptism when we were babies, BUT that baptism cannot save us IF we are not immersed in the life of God. By life of God, I do not mean, doing the rituals of faith, but what I mean is living a holy life, or striving to live a holy life through the reception of the Sacraments especially of Confession and Eucharist.
Living a holy life is possible only when we repent. Repentance begins when we see Jesus from a different perspective. In the Gospel today, Mary Magdalene recognized Jesus only when he called her name. In her love for him, she held on to him and Jesus told her, Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. Mary cannot hold on to what she knew about Jesus. She had to let go of her perception of Jesus as man, and she needs to see him as true God and true Man. Jesus does not change. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. But our perception of him needs to change. This change in perception is repentance. Repentance is not seen in following rituals. It is not seen even in the confession of faith. It is seen in our love for Jesus.
John always speaks of believing in Jesus. But for this instance with Mary Magdalene, he did not say Mary believed, because Mary, went beyond believing, her relationship with Jesus is perfected in love for him. Repentance goes beyond rituals. It goes beyond knowledge and understanding. It goes beyond faith. It is perfected in love.
Peter said, this call to repent is for all, including you. God calls us to repent, so we can live with him in love. This life is one where we have him as Father. A life of power in the Holy Spirit. A life of victory in Jesus. A life of love with the Father.
If you want this life, repent. Change your perspective of Jesus. Accept him as he is. Life will not be rosy and without problems. But life will be one of peace, of power, of victory and immense love of God.
Lord God, I come to you. I want to see you as you are, so I can love you as you are. You know who I am and yet, you forgive me. Change my heart. I accept your forgiveness and I ask you to send your Holy Spirit as you promised through Peter. Come Lord, change my life. Give me YOUR peace. Give me YOUR victory. Give me YOUR love. In Jesus’ name I pray.