We are rapidly approaching the end of the liturgical year – this Sunday we celebrate the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time and next Sunday is the last week of the liturgical year – the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This also means that Advent is right around the corner! I encourage you to think ahead and plan for the spiritual journey of Advent!
This Sunday our Lord Jesus teaches us about interior conversion or growing in living one’s life for God. The parable of the talents teaches us that life is a gift from God and we are meant to share what we have been given to build up His Kingdom! The steward that hides the talents is selfish and cowardly in choosing to not use the talents given by God for His glory. In order to be free to give ourselves back to God we need to learn to trust God and let
ourselves be led to interior conversion. Interior conversion to the call of friendship of Jesus is the very essence of being a Christian. Interior conversion to friendship with Jesus is manifested in our lives through repentance from sin, dedication to daily prayer, almsgiving and fasting. The main obstacle that most Catholics have in the path toward interior conversion is blindness to presence of sin in their lives. Most people do not like to hear about or acknowledge sin their lives. Most Catholics do not like to confess their sins in the Sacrament of Confession. But these are the very things we must do to have a living, dynamic and joyful friendship with Jesus. In fact, it can be said that the ‘joy of being Catholic is found in the experience of conversion in friendship with Jesus’.
Our Catholic Faith teaches us that are two conversions that should be part of every Catholic’s life (See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1422-1439). Here is what our Catechism teaches us (1426): “Conversion to Christ, the new birth of Baptism, the gift
of the Holy Spirit and the Body and Blood of Christ received as food have made us "holy and without blemish," just as the Church herself, the Bride of Christ, is "holy and without blemish."
Nevertheless the new life received in Christian initiation has not abolished the frailty and weakness of human nature, nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in the baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life. This is the struggle of conversion directed toward holiness and eternal life to which the Lord never ceases to call us.”
The first conversion happens when we received the Sacrament of Baptism (usually as an infant). The second conversion happens throughout our lives as each of us works out our salvation in a personal relationship with Jesus in the Sacraments of our Faith and daily prayer. This second conversion is called the conversion of the heart to Jesus. From our Catechism, 1432: “The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new heart. Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to him: "Restore us to thyself, O LORD, that we may be restored!" God gives us the strength to begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God's love that our heart is shaken
by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him.”
It is in this second conversion that the soul engages in discerning and intentionally choosing to live in unison with Jesus. The soul seeks to become more pleasing to Him and to live in the light of His Love and Truth. The Church teaches that the path of living in friendship with Jesus in such an intimate and interior manner always involves a transparency with Him by the means that He has given us: the Sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist and daily prayer. When it comes to conversion, we Catholics never really say we have ‘arrived’. Rather, we recognize, with the help of the grace given by Jesus, that we are continually growing in conversion or the joy of intimate friendship with Jesus!
Through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of the Children of God, St. Joseph, St. Michael and St. Paul, may God bless us all with the graces we need to grow in His friendship!