“Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand”

From the Parish PriestFr. Romey Rosco

St. John the Baptist, the forerunner of our Lord, preached constantly on the need for repentance.  This also was the first message of Christ’s public ministry.  In the Gospels, we read that He sent His disciples out to preach repentance, and about His ministry He said: “I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (St. Luke 5:32)

Today, it seems that many Orthodox Christians see repentance as an enumeration of sins without an actual turning away from sin and sinful values.  While it is good to know our sins and to confess them (listing them in confession is not a bad idea), we must leave the confessional with sincere determination not to repeat them.  Yes, that’s easier said than done, and it is right to confess our sins as often as we commit them.  But what is repentance?

Repentance is not just going through a ritual confession, something outward and perhaps superficial, as some Christians confess their sins.  It goes far deeper.  It is an attitude, a decision, a change of one’s mind and will.  It is turning away from self-centeredness and putting Jesus Christ in our place as we seek to do the will of our Heavenly Father.  Really, it is coming to grips with yourself in Jesus Christ, taking God seriously, determining where we are indeed wrong and vowing to be different.  It is a desperate longing for a clean heart and soul.  “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 50)

The Son of God came to save mankind, but not without our complete willingness to be saved.  True repentance must be ever-present in our lives, just as the Lord is always with us.  “As many as have been baptized in Christ have been clothed in Christ, Alleluia!”

“Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (St. Matthew 4:17)

From The Weekly Bulletin, Vol. XL No. 2, 13 January 2013
Sts. Peter & Paul Romanian Orthodox Church, Dearborn Heights MI

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