Conversion and Stability in Faith
FRIDAY: Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Conversion and Stability in Faith
Men and women have a moral obligation to protect their self-esteem. If people lack confidence in their own worth and ability it is impossible for them to love either God or neighbour. They will live in a haphazard manner and conduct their affairs in the same way. Victims of low self-esteem are incapable of a healthy spirituality and human relationship; they cannot maintain a steady course to conversion. All their attempts at change, conversion and readjustment of their lives will be a piecemeal affair that will inevitably restrict both the physical, mental, social and spiritual development.
Christianity and Christian spirituality: the former is a culture; the latter is its lifeblood. They are indispensable of each other in their task to assist and sustain humankind in their efforts to perfect their integrity and maintain a vigorous level of self-esteem and a steady course to conversion. In all things, God takes cognizance of humankind’s fallen nature, their tendency to vacillate and even to self-destruct without recognizing they are, particularly if there are no divine stimuli to guide them along the right path (Jer.6:16).
The parables of the bridegroom, the patch, and wineskins, each in its particular context depicts the nature of humankind in their fraught relationship with God and their struggles towards a holistic human and spiritual development.
In the first instance, the parable of the bridegroom is a permanent reminder that those who live, move, and have their being in Christ lack nothing. Their spirituality is intact. They are intimately one body with him (Matt.19:6; 1Cor.12:27). In Christ, there is never any state of depravity. However, once we wander away from the body of Christ as depicted in the parable of the prodigal son we are destined to disintegrate into a subhuman condition until we return to the father’s house for conciliation, acceptance and reinstatement. That is the significance of the feast in today’s gospel. In the Father’s house, there is never any need to fast – especially when grace envelopes, us as in our mother’s womb.
In the second instance, the parable of the patch: conversion and repentance demand more than a quick fixed solution. They must be a conscientious effort on the part on the part of the penitent to avoid the occasions of sin. Again, with reference to the prodigal son. Once he left the pigsty there was no turning back. The bath, the new garment, the ring on his finger and new shoes on his feet are all symbols of a complete new beginning. The old way of sin and the new life of conversion were incompatible for his holistic growth and development in every way.
In the third instance, the old and the new wine shins are reminiscent of the old and the new covenant (Heb.8:7; Lk.22:20). It is a distinction between a life of sin and a life of grace. The two are irreconcilable. Think of the St. Lucian idiom “Dé mal kwab pa ka wèsté an menm twou-a” (Two male crabs cannot co-exists in the same hole). In other words, the spirit of evil and grace cannot inhabit the same soul. Evil will disrupt the solidarity of the soul with God and all the efforts at being goodwill go in vain.
What makes human integrity an absolute imperative and conversion a necessity is that humankind was made for the glory of God. Therefore, since we are the body of Christ, it is vital that we behave like his bride – we must avoid all acts of infidelity and we do all things possible to keep the covenant between Christ and ourselves intact – it is never conditional (Jn.14:23). In other words, our efforts towards conversion must always be intentional and purposeful. It must be a demonstration of the will to salvage our relation with God and Christ. Our eternity depends on this ongoing conciliation with God in Christ Jesus.
Lord, have mercy on your servants. We have all acted like prodigal spouses. Rescue us and we shall be saved.