Commentary of the Day
Christ calls us all to conversion
Christ, who always practiced in his life what he preached, before beginning his ministry spent forty days and forty nights in prayer and fasting, and began his public mission with the joyful message: "The kingdom of God is at hand." To this he added the command: "Repent and believe in the Gospel."(Mk 1:15) These words constitute, in a way, a compendium of the whole Christian life. The kingdom of God announced by Christ can be entered only by a "change of heart" ("metanoia") that is to say through an intimate and total change and renewal of the entire man. (...) The invitation of the Son to "metanoia" becomes all the more inescapable inasmuch as he not only preaches it but himself offers an example. Christ, in fact, is the supreme model for those doing penance. He willed to suffer punishment for sins which were not his but those of others.
In the presence of Christ man is illumined with a new light and consequently recognizes the holiness of God and the gravity of sin. Through the word of Christ a message is transmitted to him that invites him to conversion and grants forgiveness of sins. These gifts he fully attains in baptism. This sacrament, in fact, configures him to the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord, and places the whole future of the life of the baptized under the seal of this mystery. Therefore, following the Master, every Christian must renounce himself, take up his own cross and participate in the sufferings of Christ. Thus transformed into the image of Christ's death, he is made capable of meditating on the glory of the resurrection. Furthermore, following the Master, he can no longer live for himself, but must live for him who loves him and gave himself for him.(Gal 2:20) He will also have to live for his brethren, completing "in his flesh that which is lacking in the sufferings of Christ (...) for the benefit of his body, which is the church"(Col 1:24).
by Saint Paul VI, Pope from 1963-1978
From: Apostolic Constitution “ Paenitemini ” of 18/02/1966 (©Libreria Editrice Vaticana)