Lent as Invitation to Metanoia

Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent.  We typically think of Lent as a time of repentance, a term that we think of in terms of being sorry for our sins and resolving to refrain from committing them again.  And that is certainly a worthwhile practice.

In a reflection in Give Us This Day, James Martin invites us to a broader understanding of what that word means.  He suggests that the word the Gospels use for repentance means something a bit different, writing that in the Gospels, “both John the Baptist and Jesus call us to embrace a metanoia.  This Greek word means a complete change of mind and heart.  So it’s not simply a regretting of sins; it’s a complete reorientation of one’s life.”

What will you do this Lent to further that metanoia?  Martin suggests asking God to help you become aware of the parts of your life where you are, not only sinful, but unfree.

Ask yourself: What are the areas of unfreedom that lead you to act in unskillful ways?  And what is the grace you need from God to become free?

These are harder questions than simply giving up chocolate or some equivalent.  But, as Martin suggests in his reflection “‘turning over a new leaf’ can be both profoundly freeing and profoundly joyful.”