Verb = to atone

All religions encourage people to be sorry for their sins, and to ask for God's forgiveness. Many religions teach that when we sin we damage our relationship with God. Being sorry for having done something wrong is not always enough - we need to atone for our sins.

Imagine some children playing with a ball near a house. One of the children gives the ball a hefty kick and it breaks a window. The angry home-owner calls out, "Who did that?" (after all it wouldn't be fair to blame all the children).

If the child owns up and says, "It was me!" then she has taken the first step towards reconciliation and made a confession.

Just owning up is probably not going to be enough to lessen the home-owner's anger. When people own up to things they have done, it is usually accompanied by an expression of regret and we say, "I'm sorry." This is called repentance.

If we have owned up (confessed) and meant it when we said 'sorry' (repented), then we are well on our way to a reconciliation. If the home-owner believes that the child's repentance is sincere, then it's up to him to decide whether to forgive or not.

But what might prevent the home-owner from forgiving the repentant footballer? As he listens to her repentance, he surveys the broken window with dismay.

Although the child has confessed and repented, and even if the charitable home-owner has forgiven her, the damage to the window remains. In order for a full reconciliation to take place the damage needs to be repaired. The obvious thing for the child to do is to offer to pay for the broken window. This is the least she can do under the circumstances.
Is just repairing the window sufficient? In order for the home-owner to forgive the girl, he needs to be convinced of her repentance. The girl has to think of something she can do to demonstrate that she is sorry as well as repairing the damaged window. This is called penance. She might offer to do something such as mowing his lawn or weeding his garden, or she might buy him a box of chocolates.

Making up for something you have done wrong is called atonement.


  © Mr.B at Farcaster Communications