A call to repentance
By Mathias Mulumba Seminarian, Archdioceseof Port of Spain
International evangelist Luis Palau once said, “It is bad when you fail morally. It’s worse when you do not repent.”
In today’s gospel, Jesus delivers a chilling warning. On being told of the deaths of the Galileans whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices and the 18 people who were crushed to death when the tower of Siloam fell, he declares, “but unless you repent you will all perish as they did”.
Jesus is addressing His audience’s perception that those who were killed in these horrific circumstances died that way because they were greater sinners than those who were spared. They believed the degree of people’s loss is a measure of their sin: the more you sin, the more you must suffer in this world.
Today, many still believe natural disasters and catastrophes are God’s punishment for bad behaviour. If someone’s house burns down or a once-thriving business collapses, or a young child dies tragically, some will say that individuals in those families must have been doing something wrong.
I remember some years ago when the people of Haiti were struck by an earthquake, some were quick to interpret it as God’s wrath for the practice of voodoo. Attitudes like these suggest a kind of complacency and blindness in us who look on.
Rightly, David Rudder sang:
“Haiti, I’m sorry
We misunderstood you
One day we’ll turn our heads
And look inside you
Haiti, I’m sorry. Haiti, I’m sorry
One day we’ll turn our heads
Restore your glory.”
We also fail to look inside us.
In St John’s Gospel, Jesus’ followers ask Him about a man born blind (9:1–3). Their assumption was that anything bad that happened to someone was due to sin. They wanted to know whose sin caused this man to be born blind. Jesus tells them, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.”
Today, Jesus is reminding us, as He did the people of His time, that we must not equate sin with accidents. “Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbour” (§1849, The Catechism of the Catholic Church).
We might be well and safe today, but that is no reason for self-satisfaction. Now is the time to consider how we are guilty of sin, areas in our lives where we need to make changes.
As we reflect on today’s text, let us pose a question to ourselves. Is there anything in my life that cries out for change? Perhaps I have a sharp tongue that drives me to criticise others in unjustifiable ways, that also prevents me from seeing my own flaws.
Perhaps, I’m involved in an illicit relationship that is preventing me from living out my Christian life as I should. And while we consider those questions and hear Jesus’ warning and call to repentance, let us know that it arises out of His deep love for us.
It is for our good and for eternal life that He exhorts us to repent. Jesus desires us to be the best version of ourselves, changing our wicked ways and becoming more like Him.
Dear Lord, thank You for today, thank You for Your continued blessing and grace. Lord, You warn me and call me to repentance. I beg You to open my heart and intellect so I can see the places in my life where I need to make changes, in order to be the best version of myself. Amen.
The gospel reflections for March are by seminarians of the Regional Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs, Mt St Benedict, Tunapuna.