Repenting of sin is a proof of faith and love
Third Sunday of Easter, Year B
If people made up stories about the Resurrection, there would be agreement among the conspirators. However, differences in the Gospel stories point to the truth about the man Jesus, the Son of God who lived amongst us, was crucified, and rose from the dead.
Last week we heard that “Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.” This week from Luke we hear “he stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." … why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; yes, it is I myself.”
These Gospels were written decades apart, in different countries. They are so similar that the primary testimony of Jesus’ Resurrection must be factual. Today’s Gospel is brilliant. It’s the only place in scripture where Jesus eats a piece of grilled fish before the very eyes of the apostles. And we hear the reason for the Apostolic mandate, ‘you witnessed Jesus’ death and resurrection so go preach the crucified and risen Christ to all nations calling people to repentance.’
We also have a mandate. But our mandate is not based on what we have seen, rather it is based on what we believe: If we have faith in the Lord’s resurrection, then we too must so preach the crucified and risen Christ.
The most effective way of proclaiming our faith is to witness repentance, showing the way we live our life is aligned with what we preach. If we truly believe, we will repent and reform ourselves. There is no more genuine response, and this gives us credibility.
Repentance is the response of love to what we believe. If believe and if we love Jesus, naturally we are sorry for any sin and will repent of it. To grow in love for Jesus means to grow in repentance, which in turn deepens our faith. The letter of John is helpful here. St John says to repent and to perfect our love we must be guided by the commandments. We can’t say ‘I love God’ and keep on sinning against God.
Our mandate is to preach Christ. As our own repentance makes us credible witnesses to the resurrection, repentance is foundational to preaching Christ. To say, “now you must repent and turn to God;” or “I am writing this, my children, to stop you sinning” or Christ suffered and rose from the dead so “repentance for forgiveness of sins would be preached to all nations,” we must first demonstrate that we have turned away from the life of sin.
Our repentance is proof that we have faith and that we do love God. This is how we best witness to the resurrection of Christ. Repentance is the key to our fulfilling our mandate to preach what we believe. May our holy Mother pray that we may repent of sin and be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Link to readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041518.cfm
Image: Ecstasy of Saint Theresa by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Cornaro Chapel of Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome