Relent, Repent, Renew
Long before there was the WWF, Hulk Hogan or a “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, there was Jacob from the bible who engaged in the most famous wrestling match in history. You see, Jacob got into a wrestling match with God (Genesis 32:24)! Fortunately for him he lost the match and at the same time won something that had eluded him for most of his life: a new identity and a new dignity. So, have you duked it out with God lately? Are you tired yet?
In the first reading today we read the Ten Commandments. Some of us still insist that these be treated as Ten Suggestions. How we struggle to let God be in charge and wrestle with his commands. The contest continues in the Gospel with Jesus wrestling with the money changers and others looking to make a few extra bucks – in his Father’s House! Jesus decides enough is enough. God’s Temple must be respected and its true dignity restored. After all, God Temple is Holy. And guess what? You are that Temple! The zeal that spontaneously consumes Jesus with shocking resolve is not for a Temple of brick and mortar but for temples of flesh and blood: You and me. So, while God is willing to wrestle with you, his real interest is not fighting against you. He wants to fight for you!
So, today you are invited to relent; to end the resistance! Call off the rebellion. Let God in; let Him take charge. Let him go to battle for you! But this requires you to also repent. Yet you will never feel the remorse, regret and sorrow for your sins that leads to a change of heart and change of direction until you realize how God is affected by your sins! If you only feel regret or sorrow because of what your sins cost you rather than for what they cost God, then your contrition will always be wanting. Sorrow for self can be selfish and self-serving. Sorrow for the pain you have caused someone you love can give you the resolve to make real change. You need to know that God is affected by your sins. In fact, they got his Son nailed to a cross! You see, if God is real, then God can feel; If God is love then God can hurt. When you allow this healthy remorse to affect you then the process of renewal can begin. And what gets renewed? Your baptism; that is, your graced identity as a child of God. This Lent God wants to help you resume living out your baptism. He wants to restore what you became that great day when you were born again by water and the Holy Spirit: the day you became God’s Holy Temple. Know that Jesus has been fighting for your honor ever since!