A WORD FROM THE PASTOR
A Matter of the Heart
Lent calls us to conversion. The grace of God is more abundant and more freely available in this holy time. There is nothing like the joy which fills a person as when she or he is converted and forgiven by God. The joy is not to be identified with the thrill we get looking in the shop windows and in buying all that we can afford to buy. God's joy is deeper. But for God to forgive our wrongdoing, there are two things we need to do.
The first is to own up our personal responsibility for the bad life we have been leading. There is a tendency in human to blame others quickly for it. We need to own personal responsibility for the wrong things we have done. The Jews of the prophet Ezekiel's day used to quote a proverb justifying their disowning personal responsibility: "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge" (Eze 18:2). But God said through Ezekiel, "When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die for it" (Eze 18:26), thus hammering home the truth that ultimately each individual is responsible for their actions. Lent appeals to us to acknowledge our individual responsibility for our wrongdoings.
The second thing we need to do to obtain forgiveness from God is to do our best to set our heart right, rather than putting our external lifestyle in order. We may come into the church or go on a pilgrimage with good costumes etc. But keeping our heart clean and pure is important. As long as we decorate our heart with the ugly things of pride, egoism, insolence and stubbornness, we will not be able to see God who is eagerly waiting for our return.
Conversion is a matter of the heart and God forgives only repentant hearts. The word repentance comes from the Greek word Metanoia which is formed from two Greek words: Meta means beyond and nous means mind or spirit. So metanoia or repentance/conversion means going beyond the mind that you have and a visible change in behavior or action. Forgiveness is our deepest need and highest achievement, because of the heavenly joy that leaps up in the forgiven heart.
God appeals to us during this Lent through the prophet Joel, "Return to me with all your heart" (Joel 2: 12). St Paul reminds us that Lent is the "acceptable time ... the day of salvation" (2 Cor 6:2).
Have a fruitful Lent