Third Sunday Year B



God saw the efforts of the Ninevites to renounce their evil behaviour. He relented and did not inflict on them the disaster which he had threatened.
(Jonah 3:10)

In a society where people are encouraged to get compensation for every slight wrong that befalls them, it comes as a refreshing contrast to realise that our God’s only desire is to forgive those who are truly repentant of their sins. And in return, do we look for compensation from those who have offended us or do we follow the lead that has been shown us by our God?

May God the Father look upon you with the love he has shown from of old. Amen.
May God the Son renew you by his redeeming death on Calvary. Amen.
May God the Holy Spirit lead you repentant and rejoicing into the kingdom of heaven. Amen.
And may the blessing of almighty God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit come down upon you and remain with you forever. Amen.

The very first words of Jesus recorded by St Mark are “The time has come and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent and believe the Good News.”
Jesus’ whole life would turn out to be an invitation to enter God’s kingdom through repentance. And the Good News was precisely that: we have a God who does not want to lose us but wants us to be happy with him now and forever.
Our first problem is usually in believing that God really means what he says. We live in a society that encourages litigation. We are urged on to get our rightful due, to press for what we are entitled to and to live in a compensation world. Yet God laughs in the face of this. Who could claim the all-time record payout when it comes to compensation? God, of course! Yet God’s time is not spent getting his own back but looking of ways to forgive.
But God’s forgiveness is not automatic; it demands repentance. Repentance originally meant regret. But it’s not enough to regret our sins; we need also to take action to ensure that they don’t happen again.
In the Old Testament, repentance included a physical action. The Hebrew word “shuv” means to turn. Repentance for the Jewish people was like doing a U-turn and deciding to go in a different direction. In the New Testament, the Greek word used is “metanoia” which means having a change of mind and deciding that we have to start looking with a fresh outlook on the way we behave. Later the Romans would use the Latin word “conversio” from which we get our word conversion. But conversion wasn’t just a religious word. It meant to turn around, to transform and to return.
Whatever way we choose to think about repentance, it is at the heart of the Christian gospel and it forms the basis of Christ’s preaching. Repentance means changing our mind about the way we behave and turning our lives around. If, like the people of Nineveh in the days of Jonah, we want to experience God’s forgiveness then we need to repent. For repentance is the hallmark of being a Christian. It’s something that never ends. We need to show it now. And tomorrow. And the next day.



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