Produce Good Fruit as Evidence of Your Repentance
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus,
“Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.”
John the Baptist’s harsh criticism of the Pharisees can serve as a gut-check for us as well. Repentance is not a once-and-done action. We need to live differently after repenting of our sins. We need to not only turn away from sin, but also stay away.
Regarding forgiveness, this practical repentance means loving the person we have forgiven. We need to love them again as if they never hurt us. This does not mean forgetting the hurt, but it does mean wishing the best for them despite the hurt they caused. To love is to want the best for our beloved; true forgiveness therefore means restoring the other person to our full love and support. I know I have forgiven that person when I can pray for them, reach out to them, and wish them well just as I did before offense was given. I may have to protect myself from them in some ways to avoid the continuation of grave harm to me or others, but I will not treat them as less than worthy of love, even as I protect myself.
True repentance demands that I seek out ways to love them, even from afar, even if they do not return that love. Repentance means setting myself back in right relationship with God and continuing to love my brother or sister as God would have me love them. May God grant us the grace to produce the good fruit of true forgiveness and repentance from all our sins.
Peace in Christ,
Father Matthew Kuhn