A reflection for the twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sister Maria Ukamaka Okeke, I.H.M. reflects on the readings for October 1, 2023.

Readings (Year A):

Ezekiel 18:25 – 28
Psalms 25:4 – 5, 6 – 7, 8 – 9
Philippians 2:1 – 11
Matthew 21:28 – 32

Reflection: Accepting the gift of repentance

Our journey through life is filled with ups and downs, successes and failures. We stumble, we falter, and at times, we hurt those we love most. We strive to live by Christian principles, which call us to love unconditionally as Christ did, yet we fall short. In moments of reflection, we may find ourselves humbled by our human frailty, realizing how deeply we depend on God’s grace.

This Sunday’s readings offer us a profound opportunity to contemplate the gift of repentance, a divine gift extended to each of us. It’s a message of hope, reminding us that regardless of our past actions, the door to God’s mercy is always open. To access this gift, we must embrace God’s call to repentance. The Bible poignantly illustrates repentance through metaphors, each conveying its depth and significance.

In the book of Ezekiel (18:25-28), we are introduced to the metaphor of turning. The prophet Ezekiel speaks of a person who turns away from righteousness to sin and another who turns from sin to righteousness. It’s akin to finding ourselves on a misguided path, but God, in God’s boundless mercy, invites us to make a U-turn. This act of turning signifies a change of heart and direction that repentance brings. It’s akin to realizing that we’ve been moving away from our true home and choosing to reorient ourselves towards God, our loving father.


Imagine a traveler lost in a dense forest, uncertain about the path ahead. Suddenly, the traveler hears a voice from behind, encouraging a change of course. At that moment, the traveler decides to turn around, leaving behind the tangled thicket and stepping onto the illuminated path. Repentance offers us a similar opportunity—a chance to redirect our lives, to leave the darkness of sin behind, and to embrace the radiance of God’s love and mercy.

Repentance is also likened to washing or cleansing, as we find in Psalm 50 (51): 2, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” In the same way that dirt and grime can cling to our bodies, sin can stain our souls. Repentance represents the spiritual purification that eliminates the impurities of sin from our hearts.

Imagine a pristine white garment tarnished by mud. To restore its purity, it must undergo a thorough cleansing. Similarly, when our souls bear the marks of sin and human frailty, we can turn to God in repentance. God’s mercy acts as a purifying agent, washing away our transgressions, and restoring the innocence of our souls. This metaphor underscores that repentance is not a punitive act but a process of revival and renewal.

In Matthew 21:28-32, Jesus employs the metaphor of bearing fruit to convey the essence of repentance. He narrates the parable of two sons—one initially refusing his father’s request but later experiencing a change of heart and obeying, and another promising obedience but ultimately failing to follow through. The first son, despite his initial disobedience, bears the fruit of obedience through repentance.

Imagine a fruit tree in a neglected garden. At first glance, it may seem barren and lifeless. However, with care and attention, it gradually blossoms, yielding vibrant and abundant fruit. Similarly, when we turn away from sin through repentance, our lives bear the fruit of righteousness and obedience to God’s will. This metaphor emphasizes that repentance leads to transformation, evident through our actions.

The gift of repentance is a divine offering, extending to us the opportunity to turn, to be cleansed, and to bear the fruits of righteousness. Let us wholeheartedly embrace this gift, acknowledging our need for God’s forgiveness and guidance. Just as God’s mercy knows no bounds, our repentance opens the door to restoration, renewal, and a deeper relationship with our heavenly father.

About the author

Sister Maria Ukamaka Okeke, I.H.M.

Maria Ukamaka Okeke, I.H.M. is a member of the congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in Catholic Educational Leadership at DePaul University. Sister Maria is committed to holistic education, inspiring policymakers, educators, and learners to create a harmonious world through transformative education.

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