Today, the Second Sunday of Advent, we meet John the Baptist. Note the details in the first sentence of today’s gospel reading:
“John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
The word in the original Greek that is often translated as repentance is “metanoia” literally meaning “change of mind.” One commentary adds “this kind of repentance is not about regret or guilt or shame, it implies making a decision to turn around, to face a new direction”.
The website metanoia.org gives this great example:
Imagine you are standing in a circle of people.
In the centre of the circle, there is a source of light.
But rather than facing the centre and the light, you are standing with your back to the light, facing outward.
When you stand this way, facing away from the light. all you can see is your own shadow.
You cannot see the light.
You can only look into your shadow.
You cannot see the others in the circle with you.
From what you can see, you are disconnected and alone in the dark
Now imagine that you turn around to face the light that is in the centre of the circle.
When you turn toward the light, you no longer see only darkness.
When you turn toward the light, your shadow is behind you.
When you turn toward the light, you can now see the other people who are standing with you.
You can see that the light is shining on everyone and that you are all connected in its radiance.
Repentance means not only turning from what is bad, but also from many things that are good, but just not for us at this time, or turning from good things that we have become inordinately attached to and which therefore restrict our ability to be truly free.
- Invite Jesus to reveal to you whatever you need to turn away from. When you become aware of something, don’t see the turning as a major task…instead invite Jesus to make whatever you need to turn to much more attractive than what you need to turn away from.
- Now begin to change your words and actions to match your new direction. Notice any shift in feeling in you…do you feel more or less authentic? Do you feel more or less in harmony with Jesus?