Daily Reading for September 23

The human journey rightly understood is a movement of metanoia. Repentance, the usual translation of the Greek word, is an unsatisfactory one, because it too much suggests self-blame and the acknowledgement of sin, instead of hope which is its essential characteristic. The word means literally change of mind or change of attitude; and though self-blame and the realization of guilt may prepare the way for metanoia it is hope that brings about the change of heart and mind which effects a new orientation in a person’s life. . . .

The hope that will enable effective metanoia includes the hope of becoming more and more completely what in essence we are, of living our own truth to the full; but it includes also the hope of cooperating with our fellows in building a society favourable to growth in humanity; it will include the hope of a city where men will live at peace with men, where the natural environment will be cared for and not recklessly exploited, where men will have learnt to live together as a family because they worship a common Father and Creator.

To insist on hope as the mainspring of metanoia does not as we have seen ignore the fact of human evil, of man’s perversity and blindness, his arrogance, cruelty and sloth and his timid refusal to respond to summons to change. But psychology makes for a merciful view of human sin, and without condoning wrong-doing makes it possible to feel compassion for the sinner and to hope that divine mercy will heal and forgive him as we pray that our sin may be forgiven and healed.

From The River Within: The Search for God in Depth by Christopher Rex Bryant SSJE (London, 1978).

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