Journeying with Pastor Manny
Lent or springtime, as a six-week period of preparation for Easter, calls us to repentance. Honestly, we find the word “repentance” unappealing because we associate the term with one’s guilt, contrition, and shame as this is how our faith tradition has shaped our minds in understanding the word. But repentance is more than experiencing guilt or feeling sorry for our sins. The Greek noun metanoia is interestingly a combination of the word meta which means “beyond” and nous which means “mind.” When we combine the two words, “to repent” means ‘to go beyond the mind that you have” as New Testament theologian, Marcus J. Borg, puts it. He describes God’s call to repentance lucidly:
We are invited to go beyond the minds that we have to minds and hearts that are shaped by the Spirit of God. We are invited to go beyond the minds that we have—minds dominated and blinded by conventional categories, identities, and preoccupations—to minds and hearts centered in the Spirit, alive to wonder, alive to seeing, alive to compassion. We are invited to go beyond the minds that we have— minds dominated by ideologies and preoccupations of individualism—to minds and hearts that see and hear the suffering caused by systemic injustice, to minds alive to God’s passion for justice. 1
The impeccable life and example of Jesus of Nazareth persuades us to live humbly, determinedly, and courageously a life of repentance. His intimate and self-giving relationship with his Abba, his deep empathy for the excluded, his all-embracing love for all, and his passionate work of justice and peace provide us the most compelling reason to live, love, and serve beyond the minds and hearts that we have. To follow Jesus to the cross is to follow the way of “repentance.” And there is no other way to witness the empty tomb than to increasingly “go beyond the minds that we have.” Resurrection happens the moment we repent.
1 Marcus J. Borg, Days of Awe and Wonder: How to Be a Christian in the 21st Century (HarperCollins Publishers: 2017), 129.