Rev Fr. Ezekiel Awore
Parish Priest St. Michael Catholic Church
DSC, Ovwian Delta State
A call to repentance is an uncompromising theme that needs to be echoed and re-echoed again and again. This we must live to proclaim on the mountaintop and to teach in obedience to his words; “Remission of sins should be preached in his name.” Luke 24: 47.
But what does the word, REPENTANCE mean to us? The term theological, means to change one’s mind from, and turning towards another. The turning from that which is wrong and evil; toward that which is right and good explains the idea; and so, one changes from sinfulness of holiness, from ungodliness to godliness. It has to do with the whole activity of the human mind as the one who is involved uses his or her mental state in self realization of the wrong he or she has done and taking a firm resolution never to go back to them. We can therefore be able to lay claim to a true repentance when it results in a change of our actions (Luke 3:8-14; Acts 3:19).
This idea is profound expressed by the church in the C.C.C. No 1439 in describing the process of conversion and repentance using the parable of the prodigal son, the center of which is the Merciful Father; “The fascination of illusory freedom, the abundance of the father’s house; the extreme misery in which the son finds himself after squandering his fortune; his cheer humiliation at finding himself obliged to feed swine’s, and still worse at wanting to feed on the husks the pigs ate; his reflection on all he has lost; his repentance and decisions to declare himself guilty before his father; the journey back; the father’s generous welcome; the father’s joy – All these are characteristics of the process of conversion and repentance”.
The beautiful robes, the rings, and the festive banquets are symbols of the new life – pure, worthy of joyful of anyone who turns to hold on the bosom of his family, which is the church.
Repentance therefore has to do with a change of the totality of a person, in a manner of words and deeds. The scripture says in Acts 26:20. “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds” We change our minds in order that we might change our actions.
It was to this clarion call that John the Baptist inspiringly changes the people of his time, when he made a bold cry to all categories of evil doers with such unassuming power of Prophet, Elijah. As he spoke in the desert; thrones in the city were shaken to their outmost foundation. And so, those who were cut in the heart in their inner most being were forced to ask; “What must we do?” and he answered; “Anyone has two tunics, he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do same. To the tax collectors who asked; what they too must do? He says, “Take no more than your rate” while to the soldiers he says, No intimidation! No extortion! Be contented with your pay. (Luke 3:16-18). His invitation therefore was a total call to repentance.
Today this invitation extends to us now who as a matter of urgency needs repentance for Christ is coming. We are to repent of our sins and so free from all its consequences. Men of our time need to change from the life of debunking; man inhumanity to man; we are to change from all form of idolatry, pride, arrogance and we must also be mindful of such things; jealousy, hatred, anger, pettiness, falsehood, adultery, fornication, nepotism, ethnicism, racism, greed, avarice, oppression, sexism that will eventually lead to war.
We are to repent and change from all forms of evil especially killing the unborn child through abortion and willful killing of the innocent. We are to refrain from suicidal killing and deceit of any form. We are to denounce any categories of evil doers including assassination and kidnapping of innocent citizens; exploiting and killing them for material gain. The call is most important to our country Nigeria as evil forces are hidden in the sinful and oppressive structure of our societies; they manifest themselves in vote rigging, political deception, megalomania, arrogance, greed and selfishness of some of our political leaders that prevents them from adopting measures that could free the people from the clutches of misery, and even in some cases, actually urge them to adopt enslaving measures.
Repentance must manifest itself on the faces of our political structure as its evils are legion: poverty reigns; diseases are rampant; women’s right are trampled upon; the youths are losing their dignity and turning into criminals in the face of unemployment that has paralyzed our society. For survival, many of our children flee our country by selling their parents property and at times even their parents, to other countries where a good number becomes criminals, engaging in swindling” “419”, extortion, prostitution, abortion, drug trafficking and so on.
On this matter, our traditional chiefs and rulers are also called upon. As some of our cultures embrace and nurture such evil imperatives that has no respect for human dignity as regard the widows and orphans. We remember the violation of human right by traditional chiefs and leaders whose action, in practice, amount to denial of freedom of religion, or by family heads that impose forceful marriages on their children. Everywhere we are the, lamenting phenomena of child labour, of boys and girls soldiers. The wickedness in these forces manifests itself in the exploitation and outrageous physical and sexual abuse of women.
The prophetic call to repentance is also to those working in our legal system endowed with the embodiment of some malicious forces in our country, whereby justice to the oppressed and the innocent is denied. They are manifested in the arrogant, ethnic sensibilities of some which have turned into ethnicity of the worst type, causing brutality and dehumanization at all levels.
In our school system, the bedeviled lecturers who exploit students on a general note and subject the female students as sexual machines on lust concupiscence is not left out.
We religious leaders and indeed all Christians must turn from our evil ways and be converted that the Lord will not say to us “take your wrong doings out of my sight”. Remember the reign of God is here. It is possible we can repent. For this reason he came; that he might set us free from the cancan worm of satanic influence. For there lies our salvation, he died for us that we might have life.
He is the advocate placed by God to grant us repentance. As scripture says; in Acts 5:31 “God raised him to his right hand side as leader and a savior, to give the people of Israel the opportunity to repent and have their sins forgiven. How could anyone repent without him? How could anyone be holy without him? In John 6:44 “no one can come to the father except through him”. He is the means to our forgiveness. That is why in 1 John 2:1-2 the bible says; “ I am writing to you my children, so that you will not sin; but if anyone does sin, we have someone who pleads with the father on our behalf-Jesus Christ, the righteous one, and Christ, Himself is the means by which our sins are forgiven, and not our sins only but also the sins of everyone”. Therefore, repentance is made possible only by the grace of God. All we need do is to sincerely confess our sins before God with a firm resolution never to go back to our former ways of life.
Let us approach with open mindedness as we walk our way towards the throne of grace; knowing that our high priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weakness. On the contrary, we have a high priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin. Let us have confidence, then and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it. The result of this journey among other things in our salvation “ Let us be on our way”.