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Doctrines & Morals
 
 
Scripture Corner…

AFTER MISTAKE COMES REPENTANCE

IN ACTS 3:12-26, we hear the second preaching of Peter after the resurrection of Jesus and the first part of it (till verse 19) forms the first reading of today. The first preaching is at the event of the Pentecost after which a total number of 3000 souls were added to the faithful. The third preaching  will follow the second immediately for both  are  in  the  context of the healing at the Beautiful Gate  of the man who was born lame.

The difference between the second and the third preaching is on the audience. While the audience of the first preaching were those - ordinary people, the audience of the third preaching were the authorities named as "the priests, captain of the temple and the Sadducees". The three have something to gain from the status quo and are afraid that the news of the miracle wrought through the Spirit of the Risen Lord could turn the table upside down and they will no longer be relevant.  While the ordinary people express their faith in what God has done for the crippled, the men of authority are not happy because it was done in the name of the Risen Lord. The ordinary people are those who have nothing to lose and are therefore in a genuine search for the truth. The authorities are conscious of their  position in the society and can go any length to protect it even at the detriment of the truth.

The simple truth is that fear and insecurity can make us avoid an inconveniencing truth. Peter understands this and seizes the opportunity to immediately call them to conversion.  He first of all makes it clear to them that they killed the Prince of Life unknowingly. That is not the end. God can forgive them if only they repent of their sins. In this narrative, while the official Jews represent the unrepentant lords, the people represent the penitential Jews. Initially, both the people and the authorities were against Jesus (Lk 23:4-5, 13-23), at a time, the people became passive onlookers while the authorities continued their condemnation and crucifixion of Jesus (Lk 23:35,48). It seems this is the beginning point of repentance for the people. Finally, with Peter´s preaching, opportunity for forgiveness is offered them (Act 3:12-26). Within this narrative parabola of Luke-Acts, one  notices a journey from sin to repentance. No sin is beyond God´s forgiveness. The problem we usually have is that we are entrapped in our sins and become even incapable of asking God for mercy. As the man born lame is asked to rise and walk around, we too are called to be freed from the lameness of sin that paralyses us and walk unto salvation wrought by God in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The same Spirit of the Risen  Lord  that made the lame walk is able to bring about repentance in us after we have fallen.

The lesson here is that nobody is perfect and nobody is without past mistakes and pains. We have to accept this as the truth about us and about others.  In our dealing with people, we must be ready to experience their negative side one day no matter how hard they try to impress us with their virtues. In ourselves also, we should try as much as possible to accept our shortcomings, mistakes and failures and even treasure them as a locus of learning the secret about life. It is sometimes the problem of ego that we don´t admit that we have negative sides. This makes us always maintain a rigid position even when it is obvious that we are wrong. We live in a world where admitting wrong is seen as cowardice and foolishness because might is right. It plays along the same lane that the simple minded who have nothing to lose are usually the ones to admit that they are wrong. Those with a malleable spirit have nothing to fear if they are proven wrong. They are always in a genuine search for the truth because new discoveries never affect them negatively. On the other hand, the powerful and the proud are afraid of every shadow cast by the light of truth. They are afraid of changing the status quo. They make sure that the truth is buried if it will threaten their ego, status and platform. 

This attitude of hiding mistakes is not only detrimental to the individual souls, it also jeopardises the common good. Such politics in a scientific community suffocates truth and hampers authentic discoveries that would have profited mankind. How many times have serious researches been truncated as a result of powerplay with the research team? How many times has a junior doctor failed to save life for fear of not incurring the wrath of his boss? How many times has a police officer nipped an investigation in  the bud because the possible findings might expose the men on top? How many times have we failed to stand and witness to the truth because we do not want to expose our religious leaders? They are many and vary. The conclusion is that the amount of resources we spend on  covering  our  sins  can make repentance almost impossible. In this way we are trapped in our error.

Pride can trap us in our mistakes. It hinders us from growing. Liberation comes from penitence. Love for truth must exceed any quest for power or prowess. We need a malleable spirit and a flexible mentality in whatever we are doing in this world. See everything as an adventure. Do not be too success oriented. Be always optimistic but give room for failure. In this way, whatever the outcome of an inquiry is will not give you a sleepless night. Also, in our relationship with people, we must bear in mind that they can err and so can we. When a relationship goes sour, be careful, it might be that the egos are too massaged. Remember the good moments of the friendship. Kill the ego and save the relationship. But above all, learn from your mistakes. That is what repentance is all about. Such a journey of repentance creates a sane society.

 


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