LENT: Turning from sin, Re-turning to God

The curtain rises on the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday. It is on this day that we present ourselves to the priest to be signed with ashes. Why do we do this? Because principally we are admitting that we are sinners. To have ash imposed on our forehead with the words repent and believe in the gospel is a public admittance of our sins and not merely a ritual. The ash is a sign of our inner desire for conversion a desire to move from head to heart. From knowledge of our sins to acknowledgment of them.

So what is sin and why are we called to repentance? At the core of sin is the rejection of God and the refusal to accept His love. This is manifested in a disregard for his commandments (You cat 67). In simple words, sin is how it is spelt;SIN, the ‘I’ is in the middle. When we place ourselves in the centre of everything and remove God, we sin!  By doing this we reject God, who alone is good. So it’s like telling God, I know what you want but I care more about what I want. In its most profound dimension, sin is a separation from God. The Bible teaches us that the wages of sin is death and Jesus chooses to take our sin and die for us. St Bernard of Clairvaux says. “When Christ’s hands were nailed to the Cross, he also nailed our sins to the cross.”

Saint Paul uses the word, ‘hamartia’ to describe sin. Hamartia simply put it, is ‘missing the mark’. The Christian life is a call to excellence, but when we fall short, that’s ‘hamartia’. When we do not do what we ought to do and when we do what we ought not to do, we miss the mark of God’s love and fall short of it. Heaven is the mark!

What is God’s response to our sin? When we sin, God THREATENS to love us. God, through the prophet Isaiah says in 1:18, “though your sin may be as scarlet, I will make it whiter than snow. Again through the prophet Ezekiel he says, ‘A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your heart of stone and give you a heart for love’. Such love impels us to repentance and reminds us that repentance is never too late. We are called to harken to the words of the prophet Joel who calls us to ‘return to the Lord with all our heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

Repentance therefore, must stem from our heart. It is not some temporary rearrangement of our spiritual lives. God alone can forgive sins. So repentance is not merely A TURNING away from my sin as much as it is A ‘RE-TURNING TO GOD’. The magnanimous love of God is seen repeatedly in the Bible in Jesus, who with great compassion says, “Your sins, your many sins are forgiven.

In ‘Evangelii Gaudium’, the Joy of the Gospel; Pope Francis reminds us that “God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy.” This mercy was instituted by Jesus himself in the sacrament of reconciliation when after his resurrection He said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven.”

Holding fast to this promise, the season of Lent invites us to introspect and repent. St John Vianney says, “After a fall, stand up again, right away! Do not leave sin in your heart for even a moment.” The insight into our failings produces a longing to better ourselves and this is called contrition. The sacrament of penance, which we receive, is thus an invitation to charity and solidarity with others; a call to do good and be good.

Lent is therefore an inward journey to reject Satan and all his evil works; to examine our hearts and be moved to conversion. They say the longest journey man every makes is eighteen inches long; from the head to the heart. This season, is a journey inwards. We move from knowledge and acknowledgment of our sins in our head to repentance and mercy in our heart.

Be blessed, for this season is LENT to you.

Fr Warner D’Souza

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5 thoughts on “LENT: Turning from sin, Re-turning to God”

  • Hi Fr. Warner, thanks for the Whatsapp messages. Am replying here because it’s easier to type on a laptop keyboard than with one finger on the phone!! I love to read and have always preferred the book to the movie which is why your pottypadre reflections really appealed to me – the written word is one of God’s best gifts to humankind. One drawback though, this reaches only the educated in the English knowing group. What happens to those who can understand but cannot read and those who do not know English at all? Suggest an audio version in English and other languages as well – Konkani, Hindi, Marathi. Looking forward to the pottypadre strikes again!!

    And a little bit more: my criterion for a good sermon (and this is personal) is one concrete thought that I can take with me and use Here’s what I got from yours: Most of us would rather do than follow…following is not so much in the doing as in the being! And ‘God threatens to love us’ – fabulous idea!

  • Well Written Fr Warner. You never stop inspiring me.

  • Bravo Padre,Great work,we need to be reminded “sans Dieu rien”Unfortunately man falls prey to materialism! From the Womb to the Tomb life has become such a Show!.Money has become the religion of the World today.Sadly the environment has been destroyed in the process.The media is a very powerful medium and the best way to spread the Word of the Lord.God bless you

  • Love the line….
    What do God do when we sin….He THREATENS to love us!
    Simply amazing!

  • Your writing is extremely articulate Fr. and the message easy to grasp. I think the concept of the “largeness of Gods heart” is the central message of your reflection for me. Thank you for your efforts.


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