Grace to you!
Our reflection today focuses on repentance, conversion and/or ongoing conversion as an example of a virtuous life.
As a teacher, one of the things that intrigues me about students is to see how they improve over the course of the semester. Perhaps, previously, they used certain words carelessly. They looked at certain things in a simplistic way. Before long, they started to think critically and thoroughly. They began to ask pointed questions. You see the transformation in their writing. You notice it in their discussions. Some change is occurring. It seems little, but is has a huge impact for their future. It’s fascinating to watch.
One of the most difficult spiritual skills is for one to change from old ways. We love our old ways. We coddle them. They are our best friends. Our defaults seem safe. They are our private safe haven. It is hard. I suggest the hardest thing is for one to leave behind those unvirtuous old ways. It is sometimes scary to venture out of that safe haven. It is swimming against the current of our comfort zone.
All conversion is swimming against the current of our usual. It is hard to do so. Anyone who self-examines their life, tweaking or changing what should be changed for better life, is indeed courageous. To have such as a friend is a blessing. Such a person is truly self-aware.
Contrast it with anyone who feels the way they are is perfect. Or any person who believes they don’t falter. Such a one is the most pitiable.
Conversion and/or ongoing conversion is actually a sign of being open-minded. It is a sign of courage. It is a sign of confidence. For the most part, it happens by grace because it is only God who can truly transform the human heart. Yet, God wouldn’t force people to change their ways. The choice is ours.
Just like God isn’t going to come down from heaven and compel us to make our bed in the morning. To become someone who started to make their bed (metaphor), tidy their home, speak kindly, love everyone no matter their race and class, etc., we have to make that choice. Grace works with us. Grace doesn’t compel us. Grace meets those who are bold enough to ask for help.
We read from the prophesy of Hosea 14:2-10. God invites the people of Israel at the time to return to him. They turned their back on the Lord. They relied on their works alone. They relied on their connections with other people—the rich, the famous and the kings—for their success. They did things their own way. They believed just as many of us do, we can succeed without God. They banished grace.
The result was tireless effort to please people, ending up frustrated. How many times we have tried hard to go it our way. We get frustrated. We can’t live life like that.
Repentance is actually turning towards God. It is drawing inspiration, strength and grace from the Lord. It is allowing the light of faith, the anointing grace from the Lord to renew us. It is not so much about what we have stopped doing. It is much more about a happier and more peaceful life we’ve started to live. It is what we have become in the One who has called us in love and to love. It is about daily commitment to live virtuously.
We pray for the grace of ongoing renewal. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu.
[Friday Lent Week 3: Hos. 14:2-10; Mk. 12: 28-34]
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. .