Today’s rosary meditation focuses on the Third Luminous Mystery — Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom of God with a call to conversion. We should remember that Jesus is the Word made Flesh who brought the power and glory of Heaven into this world. However, in order to celebrate in God’s graces we must first approach Jesus with a humble heart open to conversion. By conversion, Jesus asks us to put away our worldly and sinful ways and truly embrace His teachings of goodness and mercy.
Early in His ministry, Jesus proclaimed the Word had been fulfilled through Him. In a synagogue, Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah how “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me.” He followed up the reading saying how that passage was now fulfilled. As Christians who already believe in the Jesus’ divinity, this passage reads more as a statement of fact rather than a radical proclamation. However, this would have been difficult to hear for those gathered in the synagogue at that time. Instead of accepting Jesus as the Word made Flesh, they chased Him out of town. This reminds me of the times when God calls me to follow His ways, but instead of accepting God’s call, I reject it. Often we tell ourselves that what God asks of us doesn’t make any sense, is difficult, or impossible. It is always easier to find excuses and justifications rather than accept God’s Word. After all, the people who chased Jesus out of the temple reasoned that He was just the son of Joseph the carpenter and couldn’t possibly be the Messiah. We must ask ourselves, how often do we try to reason away God’s Word, transform it, or revise it in order to suit our notions of how to live?
Jesus’ ministry of healing and miracles showed the power and glory of God’s kingdom. He gave sight to the blind, healed the sick, and restored movement to the paralyzed. Through his acts people came to believe and follow Him. Jesus did indeed bring the kingdom of Heaven to the world for wherever He traveled people felt the true presence of God. But I find it amazing how quickly the people who followed Jesus abandoned Him. They praised Him one day only to call for His crucifixion the next. For many, Jesus was just a man who made their lives easier through physical healing. But when confronted with the difficult reality of following a man who was condemned by the ruling Roman authorities and Jewish leaders, people quickly, as they say in politics, “threw Him under the bus.” Unfortunately, today we carry on that legacy of human weakness of praising God when life is good and abandoning Him when life becomes difficult. How often have we become angry with God because something bad happened to us or we didn’t receive an outcome that we expected? Life is not always easy or fair but those with strong faith know that God is present when we need Him the most. Those other moments when we abandon God amongst hardship should serve as a reminder on just how much more work we need to do in order to prepare our souls to receive God’s kingdom in our lives.
How do we prepare ourselves to fully receive God’s graces? Jesus asks us to convert. There are two aspects to conversion. First, we need to have a humble spirit. Too often, we let our pride get in the way of really living as God asks us. We naively say that God needs to change since we cannot possibly change our lives. We proclaim that the Church and Her rules need to “get with the times” and be more progressive. Our pride leads us to believe that our ways are perfect and God’s ways need reformation. However, it is not God who needs conversion, but us. As I wrote previously, God’s laws are not subject to a straw poll. We are the ones who needs to show humility, take a hard look at ourselves, and find those aspects of our lives that need to change.
The other aspect of conversion is reconciliation. If we really want to receive God’s kingdom we need to wash away our sins through the Sacrament of Confession. I like the term “washing away” because it implies cleaning something that is dirty. That “dirt” is sin and by the power of the Holy Spirit we cleanse our souls of all those things that prevent us from fully embracing God. Very few of us like to live in dirtiness. We spend huge amounts of time, money, and energy cleaning our clothes, homes, cars, and bodies. And yet, we do not take the time to clean what is most important — our eternal souls. The Sacrament of Confession is free and requires very little time and energy. All it takes is an open heart to truly examine our conscience to make a good confession. After all, we want to make sure we clean every nook and cranny.
I want to end with a challenge. Every day ask yourself, “How can I be a better person today than I was yesterday?” Find those aspects of your life that prevent you from truly embracing God’s kingdom and change them. Conversion is not a one-shot deal. It takes time and patience through small steps. The road of conversion is one of triumphs as well as defeats. But we’ll never make any progress if our pride prevents us from admitting that we can do better. The kingdom of God is here with us now and the doors are wide open. God invites all of us to celebrate in His grace. The obligation is on us to prepare ourselves in order to fully embrace the power and glory that can only come through God.