“Now, gimme a word, any word, and I show you how the root of that word is Greek.” I love Gus Portokalos from the movie ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’. Hilarious!
Today after reading the Gospel I have a question for Mr Portokalos. “What is the Greek root of the word repentance?” We can just imagine his response. “Repentance! Well repentance comes from the Greek word Metanoia. ‘Meta’ meaning to change direction and ‘Nous’ meaning mind and heart. There you go!!! Repentance means to change direction in your mind and heart.”
In today’s Gospel from Luke, the Risen Jesus says, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations.” At the very beginning of Jesus ministry we hear him say, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” (Mk 1:15). Jesus was inviting us to ‘metanoia’ at the very start of his ministry as well as after his Resurrection. He is continually calling us into this process of change and transformation.
As Christians, we are called to live a life of ‘metanoia’. Jesus calls us to a deeper more profound conversion that turns us from something to someone, in other words from sin to a relationship with the God of love and mercy.
As a parish we had 13 connect groups journeying together through Lent. The program we all watched and then discussed in our small groups was called ‘Metanoia’. What a challenging journey! In my connect group, we were reminded that repentance means facing some of Jesus’ hard teachings and wrestling with the question of “how do we live out the Gospel in our day to day lives as His disciples?”
After this beautiful experience, I came to two conclusions. Firstly, it is costly to be obedient to Christ but it is not a cost we pay on our own. Jesus has already given us the grace we need to transform our hearts and minds. Secondly, not only is Christ in it with us, but a faith community is a gift that supports and encourages us in our obedience to the Gospel. The challenge of ‘metanoia’ can be borne together, it can be shared. The disciples were not called in isolation. They lived, learnt and loved in a community; they were companions in faith.
During these ‘metanoia’ moments in our connect groups we listened to each other and prayed with and for one another to be strengthened in our journey of repentance. ‘Metanoia’, like faith, is personal but this journey with my friends has taught me that it doesn’t have to be private. ‘Metanoia’ in a loving community is life-giving.