Focus on the Easter Iii (quinquagesima): Call to repentance
Today, in the Church’s calendar, is the Quinquagesima Sunday. It is the last of the 3 pre-Lenten Sundays designated the “Gesima” Sundays, which is a countdown to Easter. The name is derived from the Latin word quinquagesimus (fiftieth day) and means fifty days before Easter Day. Being the last Sunday before Lent, Quinquagesima is used for preparation for the Lenten season, which begins on Wednesday of the week called Ash Wednesday. Therefore, the call of the day is for repentance.
Repentance is the English translation of the Greek word metanoia, which is a compound word of the preposition ‘meta’ (after, with), and the verb ‘noeo’ (to perceive, to think). Metanoia is, therefore, primarily an after-thought, different from the former thought; regret; a change of mind accompanied by change of conduct. It means changing direction or making a U-turn. A typical description of repentance in the New Testament is the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:3ff). In the Old Testament, the idea of repentance is represented by two Hebrew verbs: shuv (to return) and nicham (to feel sorrow).
Last Sunday, we posited that Nigeria is a sick country in need of divine healing. The way to receive this healing from God is through repentance. Repentance, etymologically, means serious reflection and changing ways for better. We should honestly and frankly consider what we do that we should not and what we do not (or fail to do) that we should and make a U-turn. This is not a time for pointing accusing fingers or playing the blame games – the citizens to the government; the government to the opposition and the people (who are not in power, at least, presently). Repentance for a nation like Nigeria is about thorough examination of our lives to see what, where and how WE got it wrong and then move to get it right. It means a life of consciousness of God’s presence and entails a change from godlessness, negative beliefs, orientations and attitudes to a God-fearing and man’s loving lives. A Chinese Proverb warns us that: “If we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.” It is not only about what we conceive as sin. Our failures in our civic duties and social responsibilities also call for repentance.
Eligible voters should register to obtain their voters cards and be prepared to vote according to their convictions. It is said that, “If you are involved, you get the leader you demand, but if you fail to be involved, you get the leader you deserve (by your non-involvement)”. Those who don’t register to vote and endeavour to vote are not only part of Nigeria’s problem, but are the problem themselves. Those who keep silent or condone injustice and oppression are as bad as the perpetrators. Those who use religion to exploit and despise others are even worse offenders. The players and actors in the political, economic and religious spheres of the nation (where of course, we all fall in) need repentance.
The parents who encourage their child to get involved in examination malpractices, the public servant who is not diligent in his work, the pastor who does not preach objectively, the trader who hikes prices to take undue advantage of the people, etc. all need repentance. The belief that what you get from society is more important than what you give to it must change.
It is only repentance that can save our country from its current social, political and economic mess. We need to repent and return to the Lord… that times of refreshing may come from the Lord (Acts 3:19).
• Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.www.ibrucentre.org
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