Repentance and Forgiveness

– Easter Thursday –

He … opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.”  [Luke 24:45-48]

Two words in the Christian vocabulary that are often forgotten are ‘repentance’ and ‘forgiveness’. In today’s gospel, Jesus reminds us that, “[I]n his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations.” Indeed, repentance and forgiveness are at the very heart of the gospel. So why do we not hear them very often?

The power of recognising our need to repent is that it humbles us and helps us acknowledge our own challenges, temptations and struggles. As we acknowledge these and repent, we are much better placed to stand in solidarity with all of humanity, recognising that we all need to repent, and we all need forgiveness. Whilst talk of repentance can be at times confronting and offensive, repentance is the way of salvation. We must go down before we come up; we must acknowledge our sin before it is forgiven; we must die with Christ before being raised to new life. Christ’s death and resurrection are only good news to those who recognise their need for salvation. 

The grace of Christ’s death and resurrection is that, for those who repent, there is forgiveness. Through repentance, we are set free, the burden of sin is cast off, and we are absolved. The strength of the Catholic is not that we are perfect, but rather that we are forgiven.

Holy Spirit, help us to see ourselves as we are, be willing to repent of all that is broken in us and receive the joy of forgiveness. 


by Peter Pellicaan

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