WHAT IS REPENTANCE?
St. John the Baptist had come before Theophany, the day on which Christ manifested Himself to the world, and the key message of his sermon was the following: “Repent!” When Crist came, He repeated the same: “Repent!” How correctly and deeply do we understand this word? After all, if we don’t get the point of it, our acts will be wrong and fruitless. What is the essence of the word “repent”? Does it mean that we should admit, be sorry and cry over our sins? Everything I’ve mentioned Judas also had. Did he see his sin? Yes, he did. Was he sorry about it? Yes, he was. Did he cry over it? Yes, he did. Nevertheless, nothing changed him. Repentance comprises all those things. But something is missing. Something that Judas missed, but St. Peter had? Admit your sin, repent sincerely, feel sorry about and even cry over it, and then put up with it and accept yourself (as you are). Can proud people see their imperfection? Yes, they can. Can they admit it? Yes, they can. Can they cry over it? Yes, they can. But repentance hurts proud people, their heart burns. They can’t admit it and bear the ugly, shameful, horrible truth about themselves. They are tortured by severest pain so much that it is easier for them to commit suicide, like Judas, rather then keep bearing this horrible truth about themselves. While humility relieves from that pain.
The beginning of repentance is to see, admit and cry. But repentance must be finished: you need to put up with yourself, accepting the horrible truth about being worthless, dirty and shameless. Who can encompass it, then? I was brought low, and He saved me. [Ps, 114:5] The grace of God can help. Please, do not confuse, I don’t mean that you should understand humility as an agreement to sin. No, I don’t agree with the sin, I only agree that I’m rotten and stop fighting myself. I stop proving to myself and the others that I’m not like that. The fighting is stopped and the pain is relieved. I put up with it, I accepted it, yes, that’s the way I am. At that moment peace comes. And after humility comes healing grace. Above all, it soothes a desperate heart with hope that nothing is lost and it is still possible to amend everything, even for you. After that, in place of pain here comes silence, peace, goodness and joy. When Our Lord says: “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” [Mt. 10:34], he means the burden of his words on the sinners. These words are hard to bear and accept without humility. God awards the humble ones with His grace. Some people all their lives long may say that is the way they are. There are rascals who keep saying: “I am what I am, and I won’t change”. This is not what we call repentance.