“The happy paradox of it all is that repentance itself is the beginning of hope. The moment we recognize our insufficiency and failure, we can own up to our exiled condition, from which we long to return. Sin’s acknowledgment is the birth of renewal.” (John Kavanagh S.J., The Word Encountered)
I read the quote above a few weeks ago and I cannot let it go. Since I can’t let it go, apparently it is telling me something that I need to hear and perhaps live.
I never heard or have seen it put so simply before, “Sin’s acknowledgment is the birth of renewal”! In practice I know this is true. I know in my life that when I admit to God or to a priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation that I have sinned, I have a new opportunity, a “renewal”. When I stop and acknowledge my “insufficiencies and failures”, take ownership of them, recognize my part in it and come face to face with my sin, my self, I am then weakened. In this moment I am given the opportunity to realize my unworthiness in comparison to God’s unconditional love and goodness to me. There have been too many times when I have not taken the opportunity to acknowledge my need for renewal or healing. It is so common to not take an honest self-reflective look into ourselves and ask God and others for mercy. I think “the birth of renewal” begins with, “I’m sorry”!
I believe we know this but just don’t practice it often enough. When we don’t practice it we don’t give ourselves the opportunity for renewal in our relationships with one another and with God. It is pretty simple, I’m sorry! Just saying that tells God or another person I have not spoken or acted in a manner that is worthy of how much I love or respect you and I want to do better. So I renew my respect and appreciation for you and begin again (“birth of renewal”). I need to do this over and over again and as I do, I become more hopeful.
St. John the Baptist was observed by some as “crazy”. But for those who understood him and themselves he was giving people hope by the forgiveness of sin and telling people to watch for the One who will bring eternal hope, the Christ! The birth of Jesus is the birth of hope!