“Repent, and believe in the Good News.”

Mark 1:15

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Mark 1:14-20

To repent means much more than being sorry for one’s sins. When Christians (maybe Roman Catholics in particular!) hear ‘repent’ they think of sin and confession, but that is only part of the story.

The Greek word for ‘repent’ is metanoiein, meaning ‘to change one’s mind’. The call to repentance is a call to living with a different mindset. It is an invitation to something deeper, something greater. It means letting go and embracing something new.

Every person has a desire for more, for better, for fulfilment. We are made up of what is often described as ‘insatiable desires’. Often we seek to fulfil these deep yearnings in a relationship, for example, or by acquiring more and more material possessions. We are tempted to think that if we are successful or wealthy ¬ hopefully both! – we will feel fulfilled.

Embedded in Jesus’ call to repentance is a recognition that there is more: we can be and do more than what we are now. Repentance is not merely about saying ‘I am sorry, I have sinned’. It is about change. It is about recognising the invitation that something more, something greater, is possible. It is about recognising the God-given potential for goodness, honour, and happiness in every human being.

A lot of damage has been done by stereotyping confession. It is often portrayed as making a list of the bad things – and feeling bad and perhaps embarrassed about who we are and what we have done or failed to do. Repentance (and confession) is not simply about doing or being bad. It is at its essence about challenge, change and growth.

Repentance is ultimately about recognising that the invitation of Jesus leads us to become more fully human and fully alive. The never-ending invitation from God to repentance, forgiveness and the fullness of life, also reveals a magnanimous and compassionate God. It reveals a God who wants us to share in the abundance God has created and only God can offer.

What is your deepest desire at this moment in your life? Can you hear Jesus’ call to repent and know that it is an invitation to adopting a different mindset, to living life to the full? What do you want to confess so that you can move towards living life to the full?

Lord Jesus,

Help me to name my deepest desires, ones that make me yearn for more, for greater. Give me the courage today to open my heart and mind to being changed. By your grace, I want to live my life to the full.


Fr Russell Pollitt SJ

Fr Russell Pollitt SJ is the Director of the Jesuit Institute and is interested in the impact that communications technology has on society and spirituality. He regularly comments on South African Politics and various issues in the Catholic Church.

director@jesuitinstitute.org.za @rpollittsj
See more from Russell Pollitt SJ
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