3rd Sunday of Easter
Ten years ago, a group of former parishioners asked me to facilitate their overnight recollection. It was originally scheduled before the Holy Week. And they wanted me to dwell on the theme of metanoia – repentance and conversion. But it was moved three weeks after – so it was already Easter.
Just week before the rescheduled recollection I was told that they wanted to change the topic. So, I had to ask why. And the answer I got was this: “Father, hindi na bagay ‘yung topic na ‘metanoia’ kasi Easter season na – pang-Lent lang iyon.” All I could say was: “Seasonal pala ang repentance.”
I am sure many of us have the same thinking and feeling: that the topic of repentance is only good for Lent. However, metanoia is not just a “Lenten thing.” The call to sincere repentance and constant conversion is an “all-season calling” that we must respond to.
Interestingly enough, today’s scriptural readings from the Acts of the Apostles and from Luke’s Gospel effect a correlation between Jesus’ resurrection and the theme of repentance and conversion. Peter, in the first reading, after talking about the fulfillment of the prophecy on Christ’s resurrection, tells the people, “Repent, therefore, and be converted that your sins may be wiped away.” While in the gospel reading, the risen Christ also talks about preaching “repentance, for the forgiveness of sins.”
The biblical word for repentance or conversion is ‘metanoia’ – which can be defined as “going beyond the mind that you have.” Metanoia implies changing the way we think and see. It goes to the level of our attitude. And somehow it exhorts us: “Think differently. Change your perspective. Shift your paradigm.”
I’d like to borrow the commentary of Bishop Robert Barron: “In light of the resurrection we know that God’s deepest intention for us is life and life to the full.” “In light of the resurrection we know that God does not intend death to have the final word.” “In light of the resurrection, therefore, we have to stop living in the space of death.” “We have to stop living in a world dominated by death and by the fear of death.”
Bishop Barron talks about a “death-haunted consciousness” which breeds a “perpetual fear” in us. It is the attitude or mentality which makes someone say: “Because I am going to die, I must get all the things I want… I must get all the best for myself… I must spend my life fulfilling my dreams and ambitions.” “Because I am going to die, I must live my life for myself… I must not spend it living and dying for others, I must not waste it taking care of others’ needs.” “Because I am going to die, I must indulge myself… I must give to myself everything I deserve… I must enjoy all sorts of leisure and pleasure now.” “Because I am going to die, I must put myself in a position of wealth and security, of power and influence, of prestige and privilege, of comfort and convenience. “Because I am going to die, I am going to get you before you get me!” There is something about the fear of death that conditions all our thoughts, feelings and actions.
This is what Bishop Barron calls the “space of death” that we must leave behind, especially this Easter, because it makes us live for ourselves only. It forces us to work to death in order to get everything we want. It conditions us to accumulate things we do not need. It seduces us to have more of more. Thus, it makes us fearful and insecure – haunted by the thought that we do not have enough or we will not have enough, that we will run out of possessions, that others have more than we do. It makes us live as if the protection of our little egos were the number one concern of our existence.
Contrary to that, Easter calls us to live in the “space of life.” It is a much bigger and more open space in which we can live in a more relaxed manner. We are called to live with a “life-permeated consciousness” – to live truly believing that God is God, and God’s intention for us is life and life to the full. Living in this space of life is letting God be God in our life… Letting the power of the resurrection transform our life… Letting the risen Lord change the way we live.
May this Easter season be a moment of metanoia for us – a time of true repentance and constant conversion. Let us ask the risen Lord to change the way we think, see and act… that we may move from the space of death to the space of life.