Grace to you!
The reflection today focuses on repentance, conversion, and ongoing conversion as examples of a virtuous lifestyle.
As a teacher, it intrigues me to see how students improve as the semester evolves. Perhaps, previously, they used certain words carelessly. They simplistically looked at certain things. 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 small, but it has a significant impact on 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 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 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 for better living, is indeed courageous. To have such a friend is a blessing. Such a person is genuinely 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 ongoing conversion are a sign of being open-minded. They are a sign of courage and confidence. For the most part, they happen 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 prophecy 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 way. They believed that just as many of us do, we can succeed without God. They banished grace.
The result was a 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 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. Ultimately, it is to live by the law of the Spirit, the law of love which the Lord asks us to do (Mk 12:28-34).
We pray for the grace of ongoing renewal and pure love. 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 based on the Bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth and inspiration. They are designed for a general audience. They may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons.