THIRD SUNDAY of the Year B
The call to ‘repentance’ is at the heart of the whole Christian tradition. It echoes throughout the bible. Kieran O’Mahony suggests ‘conversion’ as a better word than ‘repentance’, which can carry a sense of guilt for many people. I grew up with a sense of sin as disobedience, not conforming, the breaking of this or that commandment, wrong actions or words, rather than as a painful condition of the human spirit, a shadow background to life. Like most people I viewed repentance as a way of paying a debt to God, a spiritual transaction, and not as a way of healing and life. Jesus’ call to repentance is a call to a revolution in attitude and thinking.
Spiritual writers today like Rupert Spira, Richard Rohr and others encourage us to move from binary to non-dual or inclusive attitudes and ways of thinking. Binary or exclusive thinking sees only one side of the equation – us or them, winners or failures – and is not sympathetic to the whole picture. If anything, it is egoist – a way of reading life from the position of my private self-interest: “What’s in it for me?” It’s the lens through which most people see reality. Most of us use words like good/bad, smart/stupid, nice/ugly…. It works well for conversation, being understood, and getting things done. But….
Jesus was non-binary, non-judgmental. His friends and followers were saints and sinners. He didn’t buy into the exclusionary attitude of his culture. He made friends with both saints and sinners: with Martha and Mary, with law-breakers and law-abiders, with thieving tax collectors and prostitutes…. And he called them all to follow him and adopt the non-judgmental dynamic of the kingdom of God. His attitude was one of “Who am I to judge?” His advice was “Do not judge, and you will not be judged” – Matt 7:1. Paul reminds us that in Christ “there are no more distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, but all of you are one in Christ Jesus” – Gal 3: 27-28.
“Jesus’ message reiterates that of the Baptist, announcing the ‘kingdom of heaven.’ This kingdom does not involve the establishment of a new political power, but the fulfilment of the Covenant between God and his people, which inaugurates a season of peace and justice. To secure this covenant pact with God each one is called to convert, transforming his or her way of thinking and living. This is important: converting is not only changing one’s way of life but also one’s way of thinking. It is a transformation of thought. It is not a matter of changing one’s clothes, but one’s attitudes.” – Pope Francis, Angelus, 22nd January, 2017
Fr. QQ – 01/18/2023
Being a Christian is the result of an encounter with a person which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. – Pope Francis, THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL.