LISTEN TO THE CALL FOR CONVERSION
«Repent, because the kingdom of God is close at hand». What could these words mean to a man or woman of our day? No one wants to hear a call for conversion. We think right away about something costly and barely agreeable: a rupture that would bring us to a life hardly attractive and desirable, full only of sacrifices and renunciation. Is it really like that?
To begin with, the Greek word that is translated as «repent» really signifies «get thinking», «change the focus of our life», «readjust the perspective». Jesus’ words could be heard this way: «Look to see if you don’t need to revise and readjust something in your way of thinking and of acting, in order to fulfill within yourself God’s project of a more human life».
If that’s the way it is, the first thing we need to revise is whatever blocks our life. Changing ourself is «freeing life» by eliminating fears, selfishness, tensions and slaveries that keep us from growing healthy and in harmony. A conversion that doesn’t produce peace and joy isn’t authentic. It’s not drawing us near to God’s reign.
We must then check to take care of the roots. Great decisions are no good if we don’t nourish their sources. We aren’t being asked for a sublime faith or a perfect life; we’re only being asked to live by trusting in the love that God has for us. To change ourselves isn’t to push ourselves to be saints, but to learn to live by welcoming God’s reign and justice. Only then can a true transformation begin within us.
Life is never complete or completely successful. We need to accept what’s «unfinished», what humbles us, what we don’t get right in correcting. What’s important is to maintain the desire, to not give into discouragement. To change ourselves isn’t to live without sin, but to learn to live from forgiveness, without pride or sadness, without feeding the unsatisfaction about what we ought to be and aren’t. Thus does our Lord say in the book of Isaiah: «By conversion and tranquility you will be freed» (30,15).
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf