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Father Muench Says...

Repenting from what I didn’t do

January 31, 2024

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Recently, as I was preparing a Sunday homily, I came upon a different approach. Today, I want to share it with you.

This was a homily about the Sunday Gospel that spoke about the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry as well as his call of the first apostles. The Gospels tell us that Jesus’ first preaching was rather simple, yet very profound. Jesus began often, “Repent and believe in the good news.”

We, Catholics, know what repent means. We have heard a lot about it. We know Jesus leads us to face our sinfulness. Jesus calls upon us to seek a real conversion – to make a change in our lives, to repent. We are to become a better person. We need a new plan of life. We must realize God never gives up on us. We must turn in gratitude to our God as we chose to change, ready to develop a new plan and ready to make our new life choices. Our readiness to eliminate our tendency to sin.

Now a new insight to add to this repentance. Sinners are called to repent, yes, but Jesus makes it clear that all of us have some repenting to do. I was led recently to see that there may be much to repent for those who see themselves as free from committing sins. How often, as followers of Jesus, we miss the call to do something to transform this world or even our families to become more alive in the Lord.

I have come to recognize that as disciples of Jesus, each of us is challenged to do something: we’re challenged to use well our many opportunities to bring peace, love and happiness to others. This is the way we make ourselves better Christians, holier disciples, good people and in the process make our world even better. As Christians, we must bring Jesus to others, to those we meet each day.

Many of you may say to me, “I’m not one to go around preaching to others”. And I say to you “good.” We have far too many preachers in this world. What we don’t have is enough people who know how to live a good, dedicated lives, witnessing to the Lord Jesus.

Personally I have noticed as I get older, I notice the unhappy thought of the many times that I have truly missed opportunities to do something good, to show others what life is meant to be as a follower of Jesus, to bring the patient love of the Lord to others. I have missed the opportunities to spend time with those who needed me. I have missed opportunities to be a witness to God’s healing love with a sick friend, a lonely friend, a needy friend.

So, truly I must repent. I need a conversion. Jesus expects so much from me, yet I continue to miss the opportunities. I need to pray more and discover a new life, a life filled with doing all that will make my family and my world so much more alive in the Lord. Yes, repentance means to turn away from and avoid sin, but there is a repentance for us who fail to miss the opportunity to do something. We are all called to do so much to transform our world and bring Jesus and his spirit to others.

I must admit to you that I continue to be disappointed at the many opportunities I have missed, the many wonderful times I could have made a difference. My prayer this day is that the Lord will constantly make me aware and give me the wisdom to never miss the way I can become a saint.

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