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04 Repentance, Repair and Reconciliation - Fr Anthony Charanghat

posted Mar 28, 2019, 6:06 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 17, 2019, 10:10 PM ]
Every Lent reminds us of God's forgiving and merciful grace, calling us to embark on a 'journey of the heart,' towards our Resurrection in Christ that promises the fullness of His Life and Love. This week, we may realise that, like the prodigal son, we have wandered to a distant land. Lured by the mirage of sin, we have been drawn into a wasteland far away from God. To go from so unprodigal a love to the prodigal love of God, repentance, repair and reconciliation must be our response.

The scriptures of this Sunday speak to us of different paths in our journey from Lent to Easter life. There is the wasteful son who demands his inheritance, and goes off to a distant country and loses it all. This unnamed 'distant country' is more than a place. It is really a way of living, a condition of the heart frozen in sin, typical of our wounded self-seeking and ego-centred world.

Maybe we have known this 'distant country' when we leave behind Gospel values to follow our own way. Sin is made to look irresistibly fascinating. But not for long. Sin is fun and fancy-free, until it becomes addictive and enslaving. Drinking and drugs can harm and hurt us and others. Infidelity may be novel and exciting, until it destroys marriage, family and ourselves. The thrill of indulgence in greed, arrogance or deception is fleeting and short-lived. These only distort and isolate us from God and others, leaving us morally ruined.

When the prodigal son comes to his senses, he has the moment of recognition: 'I have sinned'. That moment of repentance is the key to a different future, and the key to the rest of his life. How often we remain trapped in destructive, sinful patterns of puerile blame game, ready to blame anyone and anything else. It is this infantile trend in popular Psychology and Sociology that blames parents, family, pastors, scandals in the Church for our own faults and weaknesses. The road to Easter for the prodigal son, and for us, lies in the crucial importance of being able to say, "I have sinned" in a spirit of contrition.

There is another path that can lead us astray - the path taken by the elder brother. Sometimes, we feel and think like the older brother, that those who repent should not just be able to come back so easily. Like cynics and critics of our time, we like to humiliate and condemn them, with a 'holier than thou attitude'. When we come across people who realise they are wrong, repent and are ready to make amends, they do not need our recrimination. They need our help, our encouragement and our support to rejoice in their rediscovered faith. Because of Jesus Christ who revealed the forgiving and welcoming love of the Father, we can come back home.

Finally, there is the father willing to take the repentant son back, and seeking to bring reconciliation to his family. St Paul calls this the ministry of repentance, bridge-building and reconciliation. We have many people today who are experts in the politics of polarisation, and have virtually made a science of it. The work of bridge-building between divided people is the majestic vocation of peace-making, which is the gift and mission of the Risen Lord.

As we journey towards the end of the Lenten Season, and Easter begins to appear on the horizon, embracing transformation, new possibilities and new life is what our journey should be all about. We still have much work to do before we arrive at the empty tomb. Before we can get to the new creation of Easter, we have some repentance, repair and reconciliation work to do within our own hearts and in our world.