That terrible fear. When you know you have done something awful. And you know you must repent; that it’s the only way out. But you’re scared to. You consider if you could do it later… Or maybe never. Perhaps you could just live with what you’ve done…
Why is repentance so terrifying? Because it involves two terrifying things: judgment, and death. It involves judgment, because it requires revealing ourselves, with all our injustices, and acknowledging God as the just judge. He is the one with the right to judge all transgressions against Him.
It involves death, because it is our lives that we place before Him, and whatever He might do, we are acknowledging our life as being His to deal with, however He chooses. We are giving up our lives.
Why? For Jesus’ sake. We repent, laying our lives at Jesus’ feet, for love of him. Why do we love Jesus? Because he is merciful, because he is loving, and he has taught us love. We go like St. Mary Magdalene to cry on Jesus’ feet [Lk 7:36-50], because we are unworthy, but we love him, and hope that he will show us love too.
The most remarkable thing about our fear of repenting, is that afterwards it seems so absurd. To be so afraid, of what has brought such great liberty! But that is simply how death looks from the perspective of the resurrected. To repent is no less than to lay down our whole lives before Jesus and with Jesus, and so be raised to true life in him.
We must always remember what Pope Francis says:
“The Lord never tires of forgiving, it is we who tire of asking for forgiveness.”
God bless you