“Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented.” (Mt 11:20).
Anyone who encounters Jesus is invited to change. Jesus shines the light of his love and mercy into the darkness of our own fallen nature, where we are wounded, sinful, and broken. He invites us to repentance, healing, and reconciliation. He invites us to actualize who we truly are. A wonderful invitation, but why would we turn away? The darkness may be too dark and the light may be too bright.
Facing our own darkness and pain is not easy and can be frightening as well as intimidating. That is why we are so vulnerable to temptations, distractions, and diversions. We are not able to sit still because we want to keep moving so as not to face our fear and the root causes of our suffering, nor let go of our false senses of security, control, and the glitter of apparent goods. We also may not be able to accept the fullness of our goodness, of who God calls us to be, and the realization of who we really are.
Jesus invites us to stop, to breathe, to enter into his stillness and silence where we can hear the word of his Father and experience the love of the Holy Spirit. In this experience of silence, we come to encounter the choice to change our hearts and minds, to repent: to turn away from that which keeps us from growing closer in our relationship with God and becoming more fully alive.
God loves us more than we can ever mess up, more than we can ever imagine, and he does not define us by our worst mistakes. Jesus’ arms are wide open to receive us in the midst of our deepest wounds, fears, pain, sin, and suffering but we must be willing to stop running and be still long enough to experience and feel his forgiving, loving, and healing embrace. At the same time, we need to be willing to accept who we truly are and called to be apart from our false sense of self. We are often too self-critical and judgmental.
As we begin to accept ourselves and become more comfortable in our own skins, we can be more understanding and supportive of others. Jesus invites us to participate in the same mission that he first announced when he began his public ministry: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).
Photo: A wonderful place to be still and pray – the Rosary Garden at St Peter Catholic Church. Each day is a new opportunity to begin again with Jesus.