Change is a very important factor of life which itself is never static but constantly at some turning point. Change must be viewed as a natural phenomenon, to be anticipated and where possible planned for.
Henri Bergson expressed this idea well; to exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.
That is why man continues to experience changes at different levels. Physically, one experiences change as one grows up in body. Mentally, one needs to change one’s mind now and then.
And morally, a change of heart is necessary for one’s capacity to evaluate one’s vision of the world and to readjust oneself.
When it comes to the necessity and value of change, the evolution theory teaches us the oldest lesson in this field: It is not the strongest of the species that survived, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.
And this law of nature still applies to our situation; with change if we do not bend, we are broken!
On the other hand, change is not easy. It is feared despite its obvious benefits. There are so many reasons why people will always resist and fight against change; there is fear to lose what one values and difficulty to adapt to new situations.
Some psychologists attribute such fear to the fact that change is somehow an unnatural act. Through the change theory, they tell us that human systems seek homeostasis and equilibrium, hence preferring a predictable and stable world to anything else related to change.
However, given the importance and necessity of change, coupled with the fact that man dreads change, we are relieved to notice all around us that change is possible.
In fact some thinkers of our time do identify the greatest revolution of our era in human beings, who by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.
The same thinkers affirm that the most powerful agent of growth and transformation is something much more basic than technology, but the power of a change of heart.
Jodi Picoult in the novel Change of Heart, which is both breath-taking and thought-provoking, teaches us a lesson that even in the worst situation, man is capable of a change of heart, of repentance and of altering his or her situation for the better.
The story behind the story of Change of Heart is about Shay Bourne, a death row inmate, convicted of a double homicide, who after so many years of meditation and prayer and genuine repentance still fears to appear in front of his redeemer with that curse in his heart.
How on earth could he clean his heart! Then a short while before his execution he came up with the brightest idea.
In order to redeem himself first before appearing before his creator, he decided to donate his heart post-execution to the sister of his victim; a little girl he had seen on a TV screen in need of heart transplant.
The prisoner was convinced that God would change his mind on learning of his change of heart!
What was done by Bourne was in the world of fiction but the season of Advent is asking us to do the same, this time in the world of the real by a total change of heart
This change of heart was what Jesus required of us at the beginning of his preaching: The time has come and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent and believe the good news.
Jesus used the word metanoia which has a deeper meaning than repentance translated in English. Metanoia means a total change of heart. It is a transformation; making a positive change in our lives and in our society.
It is a push forward toward something better for us and for our world. It is a positive change that brings us closer to what God intends for God’s creation.
In psychology, Carl Jung adopted this word metanoia in his theory of healing a rather complicated phenomenon of psychotic breakdown.
In his explanation, he teaches us that if we change the fabric of our own soul, of our own heart and our own visions, then we have changed all.
In that way we can even arrest and break our interior process of a deteriorating life and restore anew the process of a more healthy life.
When John the Baptist was preparing for the way of Jesus, he had the same view as Carl Jung. His style was ‘change your hearts or perish’. And he said to the crowds coming out to be baptized, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Do not say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.
The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Lk 3: 7-9) Let us allow these words about change, hard as they may be, continue to be our guide during this season of Advent.