Interesting thought for the day this morning on Radio 2 (I know it’s not the intellectual giant of Radio 4, but I think that it speaks to the ordinary person i.e. ME !).
The thought for the day was given by Rabbi Pete Tobias. He quoted a Jewish Rabbi of 200 + years ago who had said that “You should repent the day before you die.” to which came the statement, “But we don’t know on what day we shall die”. The Rabbi then replied “Then you should repent every day”. (I believe I`ve got that right.)
“Repent every day”………………….. what a powerful and demanding thought that is. The trouble is that many of us associate repentance with two things: firstly, with major sins such as murder, theft etc and secondly, with attitudes such as thoughtlessness, selfishness, and so on. Hopefully none of us will be in a position to need to repent of the former and if we spent every day repenting of the so-called smaller things contained in our attitude then we wouldn`t have time for anything else !
No, I believe it goes beyond itemizing every single thing that we get wrong (in my case I wouldn`t have time to list them all), but it is about being sorry for what is collectively wrong in our lives and that is largely our attitude towards God and his standards. We spend much of the day not even considering our relationship with God or caring about how many of his standards we are falling below; we spend little time considering our relationships with others or how we treat them, especially the stranger in the street or shop. Our hearts have become so hardened that we are only fleetingly concerned with what we see on the news about Pakistan and other places of suffering. Now I`m not suggesting that we should all nip off to the sack-cloths and ashes shop (S & A Ltd.) but our repentance should be about a desire to put right wrong relationships, wrong attitudes, prejudices and the like. Repentance isn`t about a visible outward show of austerity or suffering, but it is about an inner desire for justice, peace and a closer walk with God. It’s not about simply saying “sorry” and then carrying on as if nothing has happened, but repentance is about making a difference to our lives and others
So from that perspective I can go with that anonymous Rabbi and in my daily prayer say “I`m sorry Lord, help me to get it right.” and then spend my day in trying to fulfill the prayer that I`ve made, with Gods help.