4th Sunday of Lent (B)
March 9, 2021
Theology of the Body – still applicable today
March 9, 2021

Repent and believe in the gospel

By Juliana Valdez

Repent and believe in the gospel: one of the phrases heard on Ash Wednesday when the ashes are being placed on our foreheads. These words communicate what should be our primary focus during the season of Lent.

Repentance, as we are taught, is acknowledging our wrongdoings, and expressing our desire for forgiveness in an effort to make our lives right with Almighty God.

Sadly however, one of the stumbling blocks in the process is the belief by some that their sins are so great, there are doubts about whether they will be forgiven or not.

When these doubts assail us, we need to think about, pray for the gift of fortitude and stand on the promises of God to “wash out scarlet sins that they may become as white as snow.”

Viewing Holy Mass celebration on the TrinityTV network recently, the homily given by Fr Anthony de Verteuil CSSp, the celebrant, sought to remind listeners/viewers about the wonderful mercy and abundant forgiveness of Almighty God.

Quoting from Micah 7:19, Fr Anthony reminded us of the promise of God to “cast our sins into the bottom of the sea, showing us compassion and subduing our sins.”

He shared about a retreat he had done some years ago during the season of Lent, with students from St Anthony’s College. It included an examination of their consciences, then throwing pebbles, representing their sins, into the sea as an act of standing on the promise of God’s mercy, compassion and forgiveness as told in the book of Micah.

The exercise also included the carrying of a cross up a hill, “to make up,” as Fr Anthony explained, “for their sins and the sins of others.” He further stated that they indeed had the privilege of journeying with the cross as Jesus did, contemplating that our sins were forgiven at the cost of the death of Jesus.

This then, Fr Anthony advised, should motivate us to daily take up our crosses and journey with Jesus. This we all know, is not an easy task, especially when faced with trials, doubts and in some cases even despair. But the season of Lent is a period of contemplation and reflection where we are given the opportunity to examine our relationship with God.

Psalm 102 reminds us, “God is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy!” This we need to keep in mind when we think of repentance. Remembering that sin separates us from Almighty God, our quest should be to return to the Lord through acknowledging our sins, expressing the deep and heartfelt sorrow for the wrong things we have done and the right things we failed to do, desiring forgiveness, and making use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

“Repent and believe in the message of the gospel.” The message of the gospel is that we serve an awesome, wonderful God who has promised not to “spurn a humble and contrite heart,” but waits with love, like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, to welcome us back home.

The beauty of repentance and forgiveness always impacts my heart when this hymn is sung, especially during Lent: “Father, I have sinned, help me find my way, remember not my sin, just let me hear You say, ‘I forgive you, I love you, you are mine, take my hand, go in peace, sin no more, beloved one’.”

As the Lenten journey continues, so too should our desire to be reconciled with Almighty God. Remember, He waits for our hearts.

So, with humility and deep contrition, let us return to the Lord.