In the first reading the prophet Isaiah offers some extremely practical advice: after a dramatic call to repentance, he says: Learn to do good. Seek justice. Correct oppression. Be willing and obedient.
When we betray someone’s confidence, asking their forgiveness is only the beginning. Re-establishing a relationship of mutual trust requires transparency, humility, and many small acts of kindness on our part. It takes time to replace patterns of self-indulgence with habits of compassion and justice.
For those of you who have been sailing, you will know all too well that yachts that have gone off course may not be able to reverse direction all at once. Every small course correction brings them closer to their desired destination. In the same way, every small correction we make in our lives is pleasing to God, who not only corrects us for rejecting his discipline but also promises salvation to those who steer a true course in life. God promises that with every temptation he will provide a way of escape, so that we can ultimately overcome it (1 Cor 10:13).
Empowered by the Holy Spirit we can know true transformation if we persevere step by step. And the best part is we won’t be alone: God doesn’t abandon us before that work of transformation is accomplished. God is patient as long as we are willing to be instructed.