So you have it together, you pray, take advantage of all the sacraments, attend daily Mass, tithe and volunteer at the homeless shelter. So, you’re good, right? Do you think you’re as good as a trained scripture scholar whose teacher was one of the most famous scholars of the day? Maybe in your own way you are and after all, not everyone is meant to be a teacher or a scholar. This is absolutely true, but what about conversion? Is that something you experienced a while ago in a flourish of “praying in tongues” and a gaggle of intercessors surrounded you or maybe in the privacy of an elegant adoration chapel on a quiet afternoon when you had been weeping for days and praying straight from the grief of a broken heart?
Most of us can identify a before and after, or a seminal moment that divides our time of non-belief or luke warmness from the period in our life when it made nothing but perfect sense to pursue our faith voraciously, and let it grow. Some of us can tell dramatic stories of “the moment” or can recall when we really began the work of faith. Like Paul’s dramatic witness on the road to
It is important to recall the reality of that conversion experience and what it felt like, especially if we are years past it. We need to reinforce that it was tangible and that it really happened. Time can be a thief. But there is a more important issue surrounding our conversion. That would be the demon of complacency. As spectacular or deep as our moment or period of conversion was, we need to remember that point as a beginning and not an end in itself. In this Year of
Oops, normal! For a believer, what does that actually mean? If we understand our commission clearly, we could be profoundly distressed on any day that we hoped or aimed for a life that was free of distress with no elements that could be described as disturbing our peace, in other words “normal”. Our most reliable model is, of course, Jesus. Rise early in the morning, walk eight or ten miles, expel a demon, raise a dead man, chastise a woman for touching your clothes, calm a storm, instruct thick headed followers for the umpteenth time, challenge the ruling authorities publically, multiply bread, withdraw for private prayer, start all over again. This was Jesus’ normal. Yet we do not find one recorded instance in the bible of Him complaining that things were too hard, or too stressful, too tiring or too much. This is the life of a believer clearly in touch with his mission. Expect the unexpected and be flexible enough to (try to) reflect God’s love in every circumstance.
As a result of our baptism and confirmation do we have any “less mission” than Jesus did? No! In the earlier example of Paul, we see the reflection of how any Christian is commissioned to respond to their “conversion moment”. We must remember that Paul’s response to his conversion experience was not to panic at the drama of it all or to be angry because he was now blind. Rather, he allowed himself to be lead by someone else and then fasted for three days. He, of course, was healed and without one lick of hesitation launched into his mission of bringing Christ to the world. His transformation was so profound and instant that people who heard he was coming were totally confused because they knew that this was “the man who in
Our own personal circumstance is no different than Paul’s. Whether it was dramatic or long suffering we too are called to a conversion that is ongoing and constantly maturing. St. Augustine teaches: that in the spiritual life, if we are not moving forward, we are moving backward. “The best way that we can celebrate the year of
Copyright ©2009, Kathryn M. Cunningham, all rights reserved.
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