The First Reading continues to call for repentance, that is a turning back to the Lord. God said through Hosea: You have stumbled because of your iniquity. Sin causes us to stumble. And God tells us what to do: Take words with you and return to the Lord, say to him, “Take away all guilt; accept that which is good, and we will offer the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses; we will say no more, “Our God” to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy.” Repentance begins with confessing our sins to God in words, begging him to forgive us, and to thank him. And more importantly, to say we will not do the sin we committed. Confession is not enough. Begging God for mercy is not enough. There has to be a resolve to let God take charge of our lives and not have that desire to sin again.
When we do, the First Reading continues, God will heal us, he will love us, he will make us grow and be established. He will make us bear fruit. God ends by saying: the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but the transgressors stumble in them. Repentance means we will walk in the way of the Lord. We will not return to our old sinful ways. But how will we know which ways are true and right? Jesus warns his Apostles that he sends them like sheep into the midst of wolves. Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
When we seek to do God’s will, we will be surrounded by forces that aim to drag us down. Jesus warns that we will be like sheep in the midst of wolves. We will be arrested, beaten, brought to court. We should not cower in fear, nor worry about what to say, because God will tell us what to say. We will suffer for Christ. It is a given that when we seek to do God’s will, we will suffer. But we are assured that God is with us through it all.
Which is why Jesus says: but the one who endures to the end will be saved. We are to hold on to Jesus and trust, even if it means giving up our lives. Jesus tells the Apostles, when they persecute you in one town, go to the next. What Jesus is saying here is whenever possible, we should not allow ourselves to be abused. When we are persecuted, go to another place, move on. Because this is God’s way of leading us to proclaim his word.
While persecution is difficult, the prize is worth it. We gain the presence of God himself. While we make the decision to repent, God is the One who initiates that call. We respond and when we do, God leads us so we can continue to live away from sin. The Psalm asks God to teach me wisdom in my secret heart. We need wisdom when we turn to God because wisdom is seeing things through God’s eyes. It is through wisdom we realize that holiness is a work of God in us. He cleanses us, he washes us and he makes us whiter than snow. God creates a new heart in us. This new heart gives joy at which time, we will proclaim the praises of God.
God wants us to have joy. God wants us to celebrate his goodness. But this is possible when we repent. I cannot ask God to give me peace or joy or healing if I continue to live my life according to what I want.
Lord, I come before you confessing my sins. I have done evil in your sight because I am a sinner. Have mercy Lord and accept me again as your child. Remove this guilt from me. Create a clean heart in me. Give me your Holy Spirit to sustain me. Give me wisdom to see your will, and give me wisdom to see your way and walk in it. Do not let me stumble. Give me the Holy Spirit so I may know the truth and be set free. Thank you Lord.