When you hear the word, “repentance,” what concept immediately enters your mind? Do you accept the meaning of “repentance” as saying to the Lord: “Lord, I’m sorry?” When we hear this word, the concept that immediately enters our minds is “sorrow, contrition.”
Repentance does not primarily call for sorrow and contrition. You will be forgiven not because you are sorry for what you have done. Some people may be sorry for what they have done but may not be forgiven.
The most important prerequisite for forgiveness is not sorrow for sin but loving and forgiving other people. The Lord says in the Gospel, “If you forgive man’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive, your sins are not forgiven.”
The Lord did not say “If you are sorry for your sins, you will be forgiven.” Rather, the Lord says that “If you have forgiven other people, then, your sins are forgiven also.”
The other prerequisite for the forgiveness of sins is also contained in the Gospel. Peter denied the Lord three times. In order to reverse these denials, the Lord asked Peter a question three times. However, the Lord did not ask him, “Peter, are you sorry that you denied me?” But rather, the Lord asked “Peter, do
you love me?”
Love is more important than sorrow. People who are sorrowful might not be loving. But people who are loving are always sorrowful for the sins they have committed.
The two keys to the forgiveness of sins are love and forgiveness. If you fail to love, you will not be forgiven. If you fail to forgive other people, you will not be forgiven.
You do not have to approach the priest in confession and say “Father, I feel guilty because I do not cry when I go to confession. You do not have to cry or strike your breast when you confess. The only thing the Lord asks is, “Do you have enough love in your heart? Do you have enough forgiveness in your heart to make you forgive those who have offended you?” If you have these two, forgiveness is readily available to you.
Let us ask the Lord to bless us with these two graces – to make us more loving, and to make us more forgiving so that in turn we may be forgiven.
REPENTANCE: A CALL TO LOVE AND FORGIVE
Only Jesus, ALways Jesus