Lent is a period of reflection, a purification of all those false attitudes and ways of thinking that will keep me from realizing the importance of the Resurrection of Christ and its implications for me as I search for God each day.
Lent is a time of cleaning. The sinful and terrible choices that I have made I now identify and try to replace with those of the Spirit (Galatians 5). I may not even realize that I have fallen into bad habits or failure to love others as Christ loved us. This is the beauty and wisdom of the Sacrament of Penance. A sacrament is a holy meeting place facilitated by the Church Universal to keep me from becoming my own God. I measure myself, not by what I think is moral or acceptable behavior, but by what Scripture holds as the norm for believing.
The Sacrament of Penance uses our heritage of moving from false self to true self, a conversion opportunity for me to declare that he is the Son of God and Messiah and that believing in him, I might be happy with Him now and in heaven. The Church provides me with the context against which I measure my behavior to convert my actions to become more like Christ. St. Benedict’s Rule, Chapter 4 has a list of tools for good work that not only help my mind to convert to Christ but demands my behavior follows my belief. These are only tools and not the end-results of my actions.
The priest is the Church in this Sacrament and a visible mediator that takes a Christ we cannot see, but so are you also the Church. The priest holds us accountable for our actions and gives us the opportunity for Christ to give us grace for the next part of our journey. This is conversio morae with the core against which we measure ourselves as the Christ Principle, which is the sign of contradiction. All Sacraments are instituted by Christ to give me grace through, with, and in Christ to the glory of the Father.
Conversio Morae or my struggle with having in me the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5) is not something that happens just one time and then I can get on the conveyor belt of painless behaviors until I die. Far from it, I begin each day anew, not using the day before as having finally converted my life to Christ and now I can go about my business. Each day is a lifetime. Each day I must search for ways that I might love others as Christ loved me. The way I convert my life each day is by denying myself, taking up my cross daily, and following Christ. It is not meant to be easy and Christ won’t carry my cross. Like Joseph of Aramathea, he will help me lift whatever comes my way each day. Come to me, Christ insists, and I will give you rest for your soul.
The Gentle Mastery of Christ. 28* “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,* and I will give you rest. 29*p Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/11
DO YOU HAVE PROFOUND BELIEF IN YOUR FAITH?
Faith comes as a gift from God. Belief is our response to that gift by saying, “Be it done to me, according to your Word.” Do you need to convert your love to that of loving others as Christ loved us? Answer these four questions in the stillness of your heart?
Do you believe that Jesus is profoundly present, body and blood, soul and divinity under the appearance of bread and wine? If you believe that is true, compare your behavior with Matthew 25.
The Judgment of the Nations.* 31f “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32g and all the nations* will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35h For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ 40i And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41*j Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42k For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ 44* Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ 45He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ 46l And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
* [25:31–46] The conclusion of the discourse, which is peculiar to Matthew, portrays the final judgment that will accompany the parousia. Although often called a “parable,” it is not really such, for the only parabolic elements are the depiction of the Son of Man as a shepherd and of the righteous and the wicked as sheep and goats respectively (Mt 25:32–33). The criterion of judgment will be the deeds of mercy that have been done for the least of Jesus’ brothers (Mt 25:40). A difficult and important question is the identification of these least brothers. Are they all people who have suffered hunger, thirst, etc. (Mt 25:35, 36) or a particular group of such sufferers? Scholars are divided in their response and arguments can be made for either side. But leaving aside the problem of what the traditional material that Matthew edited may have meant, it seems that a stronger case can be made for the view that in the evangelist’s sense the sufferers are Christians, probably Christian missionaries whose sufferings were brought upon them by their preaching of the gospel. The criterion of judgment for all the nations is their treatment of those who have borne to the world the message of Jesus, and this means ultimately their acceptance or rejection of Jesus himself; cf. Mt 10:40, “Whoever receives you, receives me.” See note on Mt 16:27.
* [25:32] All the nations: before the end, the gospel will have been preached throughout the world (Mt 24:14); thus the Gentiles will be judged on their response to it. But the phrase all the nations includes the Jews also, for at the judgment “the Son of Man…will repay everyone according to his conduct” (Mt 16:27).
* [25:37–40] The righteous will be astonished that in caring for the needs of the sufferers they were ministering to the Lord himself. One of these least brothers of mine: cf. Mt 10:42.
* [25:41] Fire prepared…his angels: cf. 1 Enoch 10:13 where it is said of the evil angels and Semyaza, their leader, “In those days they will lead them into the bottom of the fire—and in torment—in the prison (where) they will be locked up forever.”
* [25:44–45] The accursed (Mt 25:41) will be likewise astonished that their neglect of the sufferers was the neglect of the Lord and will receive from him a similar answer.https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/25
How radically would your life change if you had this phrase at the very core of your being: Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus? (Philippians 2:5) If your behavior has not dramatically changed, then this may not be as important to you as you might claim. What do you need to change to convert your behaviors to reflect the love Christ had for us?
Do you truly believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, Savior? (John 20:30-31) Action is the product of belief. What do you do to show that you believe Christ’s resurrection is real now?
Do you live your life as though each day is a new opportunity to seek God where you are and as you are? Why not?
STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO CONVERT YOUR LIFE TO CHRIST?