Like mother, like son. Both Mary and Jesus share the critical virtue that is at the root of the gospels (and the rest of the Bible for that matter): the ability to say "yes" when called to respond to divine action. Mary gives the "yes" that leads to her son's birth; Jesus gives the "yes" that leads to his own death.
Did you ever wonder why children of the same parents turn out so differently? Sure, genetics plays a large part. One kid might have an aptitude for music, another for mechanics and another is pretty talentless. There's nothing much you can do about that, any more than you can change your own hair color or wish yourself taller. But in the moral sphere, so much is in our hands. At every moment of the day, with every interaction with others, we choose to love or to hate. We choose kindness or anger. We choose healing or hurting. The choices we make set up further choices. Those choices set up more distant ones. Until we eventually find, after hundreds or thousands of choices, that we have become either the person that God wants us to be, or some gollum-like perversion of a decent human being.
The one you feed; the one you say "yes" to. Same story from two vastly different cultures.
The call to repentance is the call to turn away from evil. Repentance (feel bad about your sins and stop sinning) is an inadequate translation of metanoia (change your heart/mind, turn around) which is the Greek word that the gospel writers put on the lips of John the Baptist and Jesus. I like the physicality of the phrase "Turn around!" and can imagine Jesus preaching it to the crowds. "Turn around!" and move in a new direction -- away from your old assumptions and your old behaviors. "Turn around!" and be compassionate toward those your culture says are worthless or frightening. "Turn around!" from those who say you can't be a better person. "Turn around!" and see what wonders God has in store for you when you see yourself the way he sees you!
God could change the evil into good in an instant. But for reasons beyond my understanding, he does not. He has left it in our hands to increase the level of goodness in the world. He showed the way, and it's up to us is to make his will happen. Metanoia, turning around, is the lifelong task of every person, and moreso for the Christian, whose own sacred writings call it out and enshrine it is as a primary value. We must continually examine our own motives and turn away from those that are petty, selfish, cruel or violent. For Christians to give their "yes" to unneeded war, unbridled greed, hatred of strangers, abuse of the poor, neglect of the addicted and scorning of the oppressed puts them on the road to a hell for themselves and for others.
Only individuals can choose whether to do evil or to turn away from it; you can't force people against their will to be good. But we all have some power to ensure that our families and our institutions teach and act out values of civility, justice, fairness and (if not love) then tolerance for those different from ourselves. We should support laws and institutions that distribute wealth equitably, for example, by closing loopholes that let the wealthy move their dollars offshore where they will not be taxed. We can change laws that allow municipalities (like those in Ferguson, Missouri) to fine and jail their citizens for absurdly minor "offenses," like wearing pants too low. We can fight for laws that give citizens a living wage for a full day's work. We can agitate against domestic violence, racial hatred and homophobia.
Every "fag" joke we repeat, every slur against women drivers, every phony social media story we spread about the faults of welfare recipients, immigrants or dangerous foreigners -- each is a "no" to God's call to love our neighbors as ourselves. Each propels us down the path of cynicism and indifference that ultimately increases the suffering of the poor and guarantees their inability to escape their circumstances. Each feeds the wolf of despair and cruelty and starves the wolf of kindness and hope.
If you have been mired in evil responses and wed to increasing the misery of the miserable, you can change. Turn around. Move in a new direction. Bring others with you. Feed the good wolf of hope. Step by step, choice by choice, response by response. God blesses your decision.
Jesus brought salvation to the world, clearing every impediment that prevented us from ending poverty, oppression and hatred. Turn around. Bring God's kingdom in from the door and make it feel welcome.