Grace to you!
Yesterday, I sketched a lesson from the parable of the prodigal son and looked at mercy from God’s point of view and our own point of view. Today, I reflect on how God’s mercy and patience in dealing with us inspires a transforming response of conversion, a virtuous life.
There are many moving conversion stories. You may have a list of them. Those inspire many. Don’t they?
Among the numerous I have heard was during one of the Steubenville Youth Conferences in San Diego, USA. It has to do with one of the speakers, a young girl. She was once among the top-ten in the American Super Model contest.
According to her, she made terrible mistakes in the past. Many of us do. She lived a habitual life of sin. She wanted to belong to group-mentality of the so-called celebrity life style. In the process, she made many terrible choices. Through it all, God was patiently waiting for her. Her biological father, a strong Catholic Christian, was also patiently waiting for her. The dad requested Masses for her precious daughter’s intentions.
The girl, beclouded by her lifestyle, didn’t want anything to do with God or with the so-called prayers. At a time, she stopped communicating with the dad. Yet, the dad, like our heavenly Father, never gave up on his daughter. He ceaselessly prayed for her.
A day came, God’s time of transforming visitation. God stirred the girl’s heart in ways known to Him alone. That heart which made conscious choices to evade God found itself softening at the mercy of the same God. As Pope Saint John Paul II wrote, God’s mercy inspires the sinner to repent. It sure did in the case of this girl.
In her private residence of sinful life at the heart of Manhattan, she finally picked up her phone and called her dad. She had not talked with him in months. The dad answered with the gentlest voice. “Where are you my daughter… I am coming right away to get you.”
For her, that was the most vivid expression of fatherly love. The dad picked her up, hugged and kissed her. As they drop pass the busy New York streets, he asked if she needed to reconcile with God by going to Confession. She wanted to do so right away.
The dad drove her straight to a nearby Catholic Church. Providentially, a priest was available to hear her confession. Again, at the confessional, she said the priest was so gentle. His voice and tone were soothing, coming from the depth of love. She felt as if it were God speaking to her soul. You know, God speaks to us in various ways.
Those two merciful, kind, patient actions—from her earthly father and from the priest at the confessional—made her realize God’s tender love, mercy and patience for her. She gave her life to the Lord. A new life of faith has begun. She would, thereafter, become an active evangelizer, ministering especially to teens and young adults, sharing the message of God’s patience and tender love and mercy for sinners.
The above story reminds me of the readings from Exodus 3:1-8, and 13-15. God declares he heard the cries of His people in their land of servitude. God’s name— “I AM,” meaning ever present, (in a sense)—is profound, to save us. Be certain of this, God’s ever-lasting presence, love and mercy follow us everywhere. As the iconic British poet, Francis Thompson, describes; God is like the hound of heaven. In so far as we are alive, God’s merciful love pursues us.
Nonetheless, as in the Gospel of Luke 13:1-9, this God of love also patiently waits for our fruitfulness; namely, our conversion and fruits of righteousness. We are renewed so we can be messengers of God’s renewal for others. We are renewed to bear fruits of righteousness also.
Praying for the grace of ongoing conversion and spiritual fruitfulness. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Third Sunday of Lent: Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15; 1Cor. 10:1-6, 10-12; Lk 13:1-9]
Father Maurice Emelu, Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections for the season of Lent your individual spiritual edification. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations. .