‘Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.’
The essential message of John the Baptist is “Repentance”. Jesus also started his ministry with these same words.
Repentance is more than just turning away from sin. It is turning to a life of faithfulness and fruitfulness. A fundamental turn around involving the mind and heart. The early Church Fathers called this the moment of ‘conversion’ or ‘metanoia‘, a change of heart and mind, an insightful conversion.
The crises facing humanity today are real and profound: from climate change to wars including threats of nuclear war to the demise of democracy as we know it. The recent COP26 conference on Climate Change raises the question, are we are facing our own extinction as a species?
To repent is not to feel bad but to think differently and therefore to act differently.
When John says repent, he is inviting us to make a radical break with our sinful past and to turn afresh to God. We have to guard against finding other names for sin and blaming others, and this includes sin against our planet as well as against our brothers and sisters.