Monday, September 28, 2015

Repent, y'all!!

      There was a LOT going on in the "religion world" this past week. (One might say, so much that it delayed the sending out of the newsletter!).  Pope Francis' visit dominated the front pages of newspapers (or the "trending lines" of social media).  At DU, we did a book discussion on the Pope's encyclical, Laudato Si. Our Jewish neighbors observed Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  And our Muslim neighbors were on pilgrimage to Mecca and/or celebrating Eid al-Adha, the Day of Sacrifice.  Additionally, as the fall equinox fell during the week, other religious traditions observed that annual event:  Mabon (for pagan/Wiccans in the northern hemisphere) and Shubun-no-hi (among Shintos).
       One theme linked several of these occurrences, although maybe not explicitly:  repentance.  And I'm not just referring to the clichéd religious prophet-holding-up-a-sign:  "REPENT, OR ELSE"!  I'm referring to something more basic, more universal.  And I think it came out most clearly in several of the speeches given by the Pope in various settings.  He demanded that we do some introspection about our way of life -- corporate, national AND individual.  The inference is that, if we really believe the things we say about ourselves (i.e., that we're good, caring, people), then our actions had better show it . . . and, currently, they often are NOT doing so.  That message comes across very potently in Laudato Si, for sure!  Yom Kippur is marked by fasting, prayer and repentance -- marking a new start.  And Eid al-Adha -- the feast of the sacrifice -- points to the need to put others ahead of oneself, i.e., a turning away from self-absorption. 
       That the theme of "repentance" is so enshrined in all religious traditions points to something basic about human nature:  we're fallible; we mess up.  And, yes, it is good to ask for forgiveness from those we've wronged, whether human or divine.  But, at root, repentance is about changing behavior going forward.  It is about "turning around" from the path that we've been traveling.  We see how difficult that can be just by watching our elected leaders' responses to the Pope's admonitions.  But none of us are any different.  We may just have other areas where our self-concern is focused -- so clearly seen in the various "shares" in our Facebook or Twitter feeds.  None of us are righteous all the time.
       Looking in the mirror might just be the best time to point and say "Repent".


No comments:

Post a Comment