Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
What is conversion? If you want to convert your US dollar to Euro, you have to count. If you want to convert a right hand drive vehicle to left hand drive, you have to measure. If you want to instantly convert a car into an airplane, if you got the facility, you have to push buttons.
How about conversion of hearts? We do not count or measure distance or push buttons. We need to listen to the call of Jesus to repent, to believe the Gospel and to follow Him.
To repent is to turn around and to abandon sinful ways and tendencies, to change one’s mind in pursuing harmful relationships and to seek ways to amend the wrong done to another person or to creation. True repentance does not only mean being sorry for the consequences of sin, but hating sin itself. Sin, no matter how small, is still a sin, and carries the punishment of alienation from God. A person who listens to the call of Jesus and repents has to hate sin, amend his ways and seek ways to love God and His ways in loving people and the Church. There is no middle ground between sin and holiness. It’s either God or the devil.
However, God is merciful. He calls us to believe in the Gospel, to have the conviction that Jesus can really save us and lead us to the Father. To believe in the Gospel of Jesus is to avoid what is wrong and to do good to our neighbor, and to reflect the life of Jesus in our life.
We notice that conversion is both a call and a response. God’s call demands a response. When God called the Israelites out of Egypt, He demanded full response from them: to obey Him, to trust in Him and to worship Him, and Him alone. When they broke this relationship, God punished them, at times with instant death. But when they repented, God brought them back to His love.
Besides the call of Jesus to repent and to believe in the Gospel, He calls us to follow Him. To follow Him is to walk in His ways, to proclaim Him as our God and King and to trust in what He offers: peace on earth to people of good will and eternal life to all who remain faithful. And when everything seems to fail and to be hopeless, he calls, “Come to Me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).
To be with Jesus:
a) Pray, and pray with gratitude in your heart. Do not come to prayer with bitterness or anger or selfishness in your heart, for it is not worthy of the loving God, and He is slow to anger and full of mercy and compassion (Ps 103: 8). Many times we experience disappointment and frustration in prayer because we carry anger, bitterness and jealousy, or we are not really ready to listen to the Lord. All we want to do is tell Him what we want Him to do for us or how we want things to happen. Remember: He is greater than anything else in this world.
b) Be faithful to His commandments. Obedience is the way to holiness. There is no other reason why we cannot follow Jesus and learn from Him, for He is the way, the truth and the life.
c) Receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. The sacraments are the greatest gifts that Jesus has given us, so that we can be nourished and be strengthened on our way to the Father.
d) Have concern for and help the needy, the weak and the suffering. At judgment day, Jesus will say,
whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me…. what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me (Mt 25: 40 & 45).
Service is a duty of each one of us that brings fulfillment and joy not only to oneself but most especially to the community.
In this Eucharist, we celebrate life, hope and love. Repent, believe in the Gospel, and follow Jesus, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.