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December 10

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Second Sunday of Advent


John the Baptist appeared in the desert
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Mark 1:1-8

To repent is to embark on a journey of return to God—a journey that is also with God.In Mark, the first Gospel to be written, in Jesus’s inaugural address, his first words in any Gospel, Jesus proclaims: “The kingdom of God has come near, repent and believe the good news.” The word continues to have its Old Testament resonance: return from exile, turn and return to God, embark on “The way of the Lord.”

It also has a second resonance that flows from the Greek word translated into English as repent or repentance. Its Greek roots mean “to go beyond the mind that we have.” And what does it mean? The mind that we have is the mind acquired by being socialized in one particular place and time. The natural result of growing up is to have an enculturated mind, a way of seeing shaped by what we have learned. So to go beyond that mind means seeing in a new way—a way shaped by God as known decisively in Jesus. This is repentance. Repentance is about change, not primarily a prerequisite for forgiveness. To repent means to turn, return to God and go beyond the mind that we have and see things in a new way.

We are forgiven already, loved and accepted by God. We don’t need to do anything to warrant God’s love. But repentance—turning and returning to God, going beyond the mind that we have—is the path that leads to transformation.

Marcus J. Borg, Speaking Christian


May I be willing to see the areas where I need repentance.


Reflect on what needs to be reconnected in your life whether it be with a person or as part of the wider social order. Having experienced all the social disconnections of the past year, analyze where we are all being called to repentance. Focus on one thing you can do to foster reconnection whether it be personal or in a broader context.

Suggested Readings

Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled with them, and then come and present your offering.
Matthew 5:23

Of all acts of man repentance is the most divine. The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none.
Thomas Carlyle

I was being called to surrender the very citadel of myself. I was completely in the dark. I did not really know what repentance was or what I was required to repent of. It was indeed the turning point of my life.
Bede Griffiths

Repentance means change, and it takes a humble person to change.
Ezra Taft Benson

Repentance means you change your mind so deeply that it changes you.
Bruce Wilkinson

Healing yourself is connected with healing others.

Yoko Ono

We cannot change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it. Uproot guilt and plant forgiveness. Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate — thereby, making the present comfortable and the future promising.
Maya Angelou

To reconcile conflicting parties, we must have the ability to understand the suffering of both sides.
Thich Nhat Hanh

Genuine repentance must bear the seal of a corrected life.
Lewis F. Korns

He that never changes his opinions, never corrects his mistakes, and will never be wiser on the morrow than he is today.
Tyrone Edwards

It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, “Wait on time.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

The work of community, love, reconciliation, restoration is the work we cannot leave up to politicians. This is the work we are all called to do.
Shane Claiborne

God is not looking for repayment, but repentance. What heals a broken relationship is sincere love and contrition.
Frederica Mathewes-Green