Sunday, March 10, 2013
What is Conversion - A Tale of Two Sons
Today's Mass readings were from the Gospel of Luke, the story of the Prodigal Son. This story is commonly referred to as the story of the Prodigal Son, but I think it is better served to refer to it by its older title of "A story of two sons". This title better emphasizes that there are two sons here for us to learn a lesson from. This is a familiar story to most , but one that I think we take too lightly. Too often in our lives we see conversion as something that happens in a moment. For example, we CONVERT from Atheism to Christianity, or we turn from secularism to Catholicism. We think of that moment when we decided to follow God. This is definitely a type of Conversion, and it is the Conversion we see in the life of the Prodigal Son. He was selfishly focused and took his inheritance and squandered it. Then after falling into complete destitution, he has a profound conversion. He remembers his loving Father and his house and decides to humble his heart and return to the graciousness of the Father. The Father, being merciful, not only welcomes him back, but throws a celebration. This is the Conversion experience in our lives and as many call it, "being born again" is part of this.
So often though, we overlook the other son, the son who was faithful, the son who was righteous and the son who was jealous that his younger brother had squandered his inheritance and returned as if nothing had happened. Naturally, this brother represents the Christlike humility that the church faithful must hold in there heart. This son too, had to convert and conform to the true love of the Father.
Both sons in fact have an ongoing conversion. In order to live in the Father's house they must submit to the Father. The younger son must follow the fathers rules, he must work in the house, and stop squandering money on prostitutes and earthly pleasures. The older son too, must conform to the Father's will, forgive the younger brother and put aside the jealousy and resentment he feels. He must forgive and he must honor the father. This is a very real type of conversion. It is a conversion that takes place daily in the little choices we make. It is willfully choosing God over myself and making God the Father first.
This is Christian living.
This is Conversion.
As we live our lives and convert and conform daily to the Father's will, we will be made more and more righteous by God's Grace. We will become sanctified and as such truly alive and free in Christ. The prodigal son thought freedom was in the world, but he only found his own self made prison. True freedom was found when he submitted to the Father's will and joined him in his house. Likewise for the older son, freedom is found in the love of the Father.
So often Christians today, want Jesus on our own terms, if at all. We place Jesus in our little box and ask him to stay there. Often when someone converts we speak of "Jesus coming into our heart" . By thinking this way we can also think about Conversion in an analogy.
Imagine that your life is a house. We invite Jesus in and sit him down in our living room and ask him to stay there. We do not want him walking around the house and seeing the messy rooms. We do not want him to go into our bedroom and see the mess in there...we close that door. We certainly do not want him to see the closets, in fact too often we do not even want to look in there, so we close those doors. We ask Jesus to sit in the corner of our tidy living room and tell him we will come and visit him when we need him, we will come and ask for blessings, answers to prayers, and other times it is convenient. This is the typical Christian life today.
Unfortunately that is not what Jesus wants or asks of us. That is not converting our lives to conform to his. That is not opening ourselves up to his will completely even when we do not understand it.
When we ask Jesus in and invite him to the house of our lives. He wants to take over the house, he wants to be in charge of the house, and since he is God and our gracious Savior, we should gladly open our house to him. The truth is it is painful to open those doors, to unpack the closet and to reveal our inadequacies to anyone....especially Jesus. He wants to be there for us though, he wants to come into the house and open the doors and clean your rooms. He wants to help you unpack your closet and toss out the old to make room for the new. He wants you to invite him in, not into the tidy corner of your life, or the convenient corner, but to your whole life.
So what are you waiting for?
Invite him in, and have a daily conversion of your life to the life of Christ!