Metanoia. A cornerstone concept of Christianity causes resentment in us. At least in me. Maybe resentment is the wrong word. But when I hear the word conversion, I’m initially on the defensive. I prefer Easter Sunday to Good Friday. At least emotionally. Maybe you’re further along and already so in sync with the Lord that the idea of conversion makes you more excited. Not with me. Something in me twitches at first. OK. It´s not the end of the world. I´m a priest after all. I should be used to Lent. And yet. Starting at around 4 p.m. on Ash Wednesday, I really start looking forward to breakfast the next day.
A whole new way of seeing the concept of “Metanoia” dawned on me flying to the United States at the end of January. My computer ran out of battery so I started to read Monsignor James P. Shea incredibly insightful and paradigm shifting essay „From Christentdom to Apostolic Mission“. Unfortunately this text does not exist in German (yet…working on it) – but with some adaptation to our European Context it has a lot to say, yes to the US, but perhaps even more to us, as we are so much further in the secularization process. Here I want to highlight one idea of his and apply it to one aspect of our personal life in view of this Lenten Season.
When Paul speaks of conversion in his letters, he uses the word “metanoia.” A change of thinking. First and foremost, becoming a Christian requires a radical change in our way of thinking. And that’s a real challenge. Because the point is not that conversion to the Christian faith should lead us to change some of our ways of thinking. The challenge and the request are much more fundamental. It’s about the willingness and the real effort to see EVERYTHING differently.* That is to say: the gospel shines a light on reality that places this reality in a different light. Of course, one rejoices when one sees that some thought patterns of an epoch do not contradict or come quite close to the gospel view. But the point of reference is not the point of view of the epoch