From “A Star At Its Rising” by John Shea.
The more deeply one enters into the experience of the sacred the more one is aware of one’s own personal evil and the destructive forces in society. The fact that one is alive to what is possible for humankind sharpens one’s sense that we are fallen people. The awareness of sin is the inevitable consequence of having met grace. With this understanding, sin is not too negative. To focus on sin is not to exclude God’s love but to concentrate on it as it encounters the fickleness as well as the generosity of the human heart. This grace-judgment dynamic reveals that the centre of Christian life is repentance. This does not mean that the distinguishing mark of the Christian is breast-beating. Feeling sorry, acknowledging guilt, and prolonging regret may be components of the human condition, but they are not what Jesus means by repentance. Repentance is the response to grace that overcomes the past and opens out to a new future. Repentance distinguishes Christian life as one of struggle and conversion and pervades it, not with remorse, but with hope. The message of Jesus is not “Repent,” but “Repent for the Kingdom of God is near.”