Conversion and Transfiguration (from my book ‘A Shepherd’s Voice’, 2007)
Peter, James and John shared in the glory of God as they witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus and heard the Father say: “This is my Son, the Beloved; with Him I am well pleased; listen to Him!” (Matthew 17: 5) As disciples of the Lord, we are called to share in the glory of His transfiguration. But how can we really share in His glory? We can do this if we heed the basic call to conversion.
Some years ago, I attended a recollection given by a Maryknoll missionary, Fr. James Kroeger. He shared that there are two types of conversion: (1) conversion to God and (2) conversion to Christ.
For Catholics, conversion to God seems odd. But if one reflects deeply, one will realize the need for this kind of conversion. Today, many Catholics don‘t realize how they are losing sight of the centrality of God in their lives. Because of a worldly, materialistic milieu, idols have come in the form of power, pleasure, and wealth. God is subtly forgotten. Thus, there is a great need to be converted to God.
Catholics know that God is at the center of their lives. But their lifestyle reveals a contradiction. Where does the problem lie? Perhaps, Catholics lack the basic guideline in living out an authentic Christian life. Jesus should the primary model and guide. His words and deeds which manifest love, compassion, forgiveness, peace and justice must be the guiding light to lead Catholics to attain both personal and spiritual fulfillment. Thus, Catholics must also be converted to Christ.
Conversion to God and to Christ means to be serious about changing oneself to becoming a better Christian. An adapted story from the late Fr. Anthony de Mello, S.J. highlights this point very well. The story goes this way:
A man had this to say about himself: “I was a revolutionary when I was young and all my prayer to God was: “Lord, give me the energy to change the world.”
Time passed, then he had this to say: “As I approached the middle age and realized that half my life was gone without changing a single soul, I changed my prayer to: “Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come in contact with me. Just my family and friends, and I shall be content.”
But when he reached old age, he finally said: “Now that I am an old man and my days are numbered, my one prayer is: “Lord, give me the grace to change myself,‟ If I had prayed for this right from the start, I should not have wasted my life.” (Cf. Song of the Bird, pp.174-75, 1982)
Share this insight during this holy season of #lent