What is the appropriate and instinctive response when someone encounters Jesus?
Well, there is no ‘correct’ emotional response to a genuine encounter with the Lord, but in the spiritual tradition, as responses go, a deep repentance is understood as normal, and certainly beneficial. It is all the more beneficial when we understand that genuine repentance is not beating yourself up or entering into a destructive pattern of self-condemnation. It is simply that in the presence of Jesus, the one who loves you personally, powerfully and perfectly, you cannot help but become keenly aware of the lack of love that characterises your own life. The revelation of the depth of Jesus’ love for you can lead to tears, and that’s a good thing: The healing tears of one who is beginning to comprehend the power of the mercy of God.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus expresses his frustration about the villages and towns in which he had consistently proclaimed and demonstrated the power of the Kingdom of God:
Jesus began to reproach the towns in which most of his miracles had been worked, because they refused to repent.
These folks had encountered Jesus face to face. They had heard His good news of the Father’s love and seen the works of power that flowed from Him, but instead of allowing their hearts to soften, they hardened them instead. Bad move!
Let’s be sure we don’t fall into the same error, we who reckon we know Jesus pretty well.
Welcome the presence of Jesus into your life again today; in prayer, in reading the Scriptures, in the Eucharist. Let His love encounter you. You might just find yourself weeping in repentance. That would be wonderful.