Lenten Gospel Reflections, Day 32: Running From Repentance

During this season of Lent, I will be working through Bishop Robert Barron’s Lenten Gospel Reflections (available through Word on Fire). Each day, I will share the readings and the reflection question, followed by my own thoughts.

April 2, 2022

When the crowd heard the words of Jesus,
40 some of the people said, “This is really the prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people over him. 44 Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. 45 The officers then went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this man!” 47 The Pharisees answered them, “Are you led astray, you also? 48 Have any of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and you will see that no prophet is to rise from Galilee.” 53 They went each to his own house.

The Holy Bible (Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition, Jn 7:40–53). (2006). Ignatius Press.

In examining your life and your conscience, do you recognize sin as “a power that lurks and works” in you? Or do you have an “allergy to admitting personal fault”?

As we see in today’s reading, Jesus’ ministry was divisive. Though people did not know where he came from, His words and teachings alone convinced some that He was the Christ. Rightly did the officers say that nobody ever spoke like Christ (John 7:46)! He came as the fulfillment of the life-giving waters pouring forth from the new temple in Ezekiel 47. He taught people to both repent and sin no more. Neither one nor the other on its own will take us very far at all. Before we can repent of a sin or fight against the desire to commit it again, though, we must be able to identify sin as sin (not as a “mistake” or an “error in judgement”) and recognize that it is our “most grievous fault” (not justifying our sin based on someone else’s actions).
I spent many years practicing the skill of avoiding responsibility of sin. Though I would knew in my heart that what I had done was objectively wrong, I would convince myself that there were worse things I could have done, and I should cut myself a break; or I would look for some setting event or antecedent by which I could justify my actions. Being forced to confront my sin head-on was a daunting experience. A thorough examination of conscience revealed many parts of my life that I had hidden for many years. But no matter how hard we try to hide anything, we can’t hide it from God. He knows everything that we have done and everything that we will be tempted to do. Like the father of the prodigal son, He is watching for us from a distance; He embraces us in His arms when we return to Him. And He has made us a new creation, filling us with the Holy Spirit, giving us the strength to fight against the wiles of the accuser and the temptations that we face.

Lord, let us admit our faults and bring them to You. Heal us and bring us ever closer to You.


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