Aloha Friday Message – March 15, 2019 – 2019 Lenten Series #2

1911AFC031517 – 2019 Lenten Series #2

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   Acts 1:11 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This [same] Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

¡Que la bendición esté siempre con ustedes y que Dios los bendiga, Amados! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd!) Today we continue with our discussion of μετάνοια. Last week we said that metanoia is a change not only in heart and mind but also (and most importantly) a change in actions and behavior. Today I’d like to share with you a frank and earnest conversation about the “WHY” of repentance. Actually, we’re going to eavesdrop on a conversation between Frank (F:) and Earnest (E:).

A Frank and Earnest Conversation – Act 1

F: Hi, I’m Frank.

E:  And I’m Earnest.

F: We’re having a conversation about repentance.

E:  There’s got to be a good reason for repentance, so we’ll be looking into that. There’s another person who might participate –

F: we’ll see about that –

E:  and that will be the narrator. His comments look (like this.)

(N:  I’ll try to stay out of the way, OK?)

E: OK.

F: OK.

E:  So Frank, you look a little down. What’s going on?

F: Oh, you know. It’s Lent. Time for the whole “fasting, prayer, and almsgiving” thing – and then there’s the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I don’t know why they had to change the name. “Confession” seems good enough to me.

E: What part of that has you worried?

F: Oh, it’s not that I’m worried about it so much. It’s just that … well confession seems to get harder and harder. I don’t know why we repent if all we do is just go out and do the same sins over and over. It’s like “what’s the point?” any more.

E: Well that’s a good question. What is the point?

F: The point is to be reconciled with God and neighbor. You know that! We have Reconciliation because we trust God’s justice and mercy.

E: Yes, that’s why we can – and do – repent. God is just and merciful, your confessor is trained not to be judgmental, and there’s always the Seal of Confession, so what exactly is bothering you?

F: I guess it’s the repentance part. I just don’t seem to get that done right. No matter what I do, it just doesn’t stick. I’m still so angry all the time, and ashamed. The way I’ve acted toward Ethel and the kids, even stopped going to Mass because I don’t want to sit there and not go to Communion because everybody will know I haven’t gone to Confession. Repentance seems impossible.

E: I see. Do you know what repentance is?

F: Of course I do. I’m not an ignoramus. I’m just not holy enough to make repentance a lasting change.

E: So? Do you know anyone who really is that holy?

F: Probably not personally, but there’s people like Mother Theresa and JP2. They were pretty saintly. And there’s Ethel. I don’t know how that woman puts up with me!

E: Were they like that every moment of their entire lives?

F: OK, probably not, but they were way better at it than me!

E: Maybe they got better at it because they practiced it so often. How often to you repent?

F: Alright smarty-pants, now you’re poking fun at me. I don’t go for reconciliation every week or even every month. Mostly I go for Christmas and Easter, and maybe sometimes in between if I really mess up.

E: Is that often enough?

F: It’s as often as I can make it. I know I’m a sinner, and I know I have to stop that if I’m going to get to Heaven, and that means I’ve got to repent. That’s the whole point, isn’t it? You repent so you don’t go back and do “what is evil in God’s sight” any longer? If I keep  keep up like that I don’t think he can forgive me.

E: Tell me this: Has God ever forgiven you?

F: Of course he has! Many times, too. He must be tired of that same old song and dance, though,  every time I hit the confessional booth. Some of those things I can’t get past – like the way Richard always gets to me, or when Ethel starts nagging again. I just lose my cool and blow up.

E: Have you told either of them you’re sorry?

F: Ethel? Yes, she’s my wife after all, and she puts up with me even when I rant and pout for days. Talk about a faith and love! I wish I knew how she does it.

E: She must really love you. How about Richard?

F: Ehh, no, not really. That blowhard wouldn’t accept an apology if you gift-wrapped it.

E: When you tell Ethel you’re sorry, does she forgive you?

F: Generally, yeah, although usually she gives me a piece of her mind, too – which I deserve.

E: So then Ethel, who is human, can forgive you, but God, who is Divine and Omnipotent cannot?

F: I didn’t say he couldn’t do it, I just think he’d get tired of me saying the same thing over and over and not really getting past things like my anger, or – back in the day – my alcohol hang-ups. I mean, it worries me all the time. What if I relapse, or what if I really lose it one day and give Richard the beat-down he deserves, or Ethel – what if I disappoint her again? I just can’t bear to go through that or make her deal with it again!

E: Look, let’s try something different. Have you ever done anything that wasn’t sinful?

F: I suppose I have, but what do you mean? Like maybe when I was baptized? That was when I was a baby so that doesn’t really count; I was already “innocent” – except for original sin, of course.

E: Good. That’s a great way to understand it. Now, let’s say we think about the day you took your First Communion – was there something about that which was sinful, or did you receive in good form?

F: Yeah, it was OK. Fr. Kelly was a stickler about having your hands palm-to-palm and opening your mouth just right so he could lay the Host on your tongue. I did all of that. Ahhh, I haven’t thought about that in a long time. I was just maybe 8 at the time. That was a pretty good day.

E: How about the day you married Ethel? Did you really mean what you said when you took your vows for Holy Matrimony?

F: Of course I did. I loved Ethel so much – still do, too.

E: Never been unfaithful – not even “lust in the heart” like Jimmy Carter?

F: Nope. Not happenin’.

E: Alright, so you do know there are a few times in your life when you “did things right.” How do you describe the times in your life when you “did things wrong?”

F: That’s not it. Being wrong isn’t the problem. What’s getting me is that I cannot repent because I know I’m going to sin again – probably the same things, too. Holiness is spiritual excellence. That’s not in my wheelhouse.

F: What was it Aristotle said about excellence?

E: Dunno. Ask that narrator guy.

N: (Aristotle said, “We become what we continually do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”)

F: Think about this: How did you stop smoking 7 years ago?

E: I stopped buying the nasty things.

F: That was the first day. Did you buy any the second day? The third day? The first year? Yesterday?

E: No. Whttps://www.aloha-friday.org/archives/8031hy?

F: You quit by continually quitting, right? How about your medicine for diabetes? What happens if you don’t take it?

E: I get sick and die?

F: Right! Now, let’s remember what Jesus said at the start of his ministry: “Repent and believe the Gospel.” That’s the process called conversion. You decide to change, to embrace “metanoia,” and then you place your faith in him. That’s conversion. Once you experience conversion, you’re ready to follow him. Remember? “Come, follow me.”?

E: That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t last.

F: Unless you make it last. Think of it as a four-step process: Repent, believe, follow, repeat. When we repent and believe, that’s conversion. When we follow and repeat, that’s action. Conversion plus action equals … holiness.

E: I don’t know. It sounds too easy. And, like I said, it doesn’t last.

F: Ernie, it’s never “once and done.” Remember, it has to become a habit – like not smoking. Most days you don’t even have to think about that, right? Repentance works pretty much the same way. If Jesus is as real to you as he was to the Disciples at the Ascension then, then you know he’s always there for you, always coming back to you in the Sacraments. AND you’ve got the Holy Spirit to help you, too. Repentance opens the door to holiness.

E: But I don’t know how to be holy.

N: (To be continued next week in A Frank and Earnest Conversation – Act 2 Who repents to whom?)

(Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.)

(Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com)

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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