Aloha Friday Message – March 22, 2019 – 2019 Lenten Series #3

1912AFC032219 – 2019 Lenten Series #3

A Frank and Earnest Conversation – Act 2

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    Psalm 103:11 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him

May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd! Today we pick up in the middle of a conversation between two buddies named Frank (F:) and Earnest (E:) with some help from the Narrator (N:). We finished up where Frank had just asked Earnest about what would happen if he stopped taking his diabetes medication.

N: (Previously on A Frank and Earnest Conversation:)

E: You quit smoking by continually quitting, right? How about your medicine for diabetes? What happens if you don’t take it?

F: I get sick and die?

E: Right! Now, let’s remember what Jesus said at the start of his ministry: “Repent and believe the Gospel.” That’s the process called conversion. You decide to change, to embrace “metanoia,” and then you place your faith in him. That’s conversion. Once you experience conversion, you’re ready to follow him. Remember? “Come, follow me.”?

F: That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t last.

E: Unless you make it last. Think of it as a four-step process: Repent, believe, follow, repeat. When we repent and believe, that’s conversion. When we follow and repeat, that’s action. Conversion plus action equals … holiness.

F: I don’t know. It sounds too easy. And, like I said, it doesn’t last.

E: Frank, it’s never “once and done.” Remember, it has to become a habit – like not smoking. Most days you don’t even have to think about that, right?

F: Yeah, that’s true, but this is different. I don’t know how to be holy.

N: (And now ….)

E: Narrator?

N: (1 Thessalonians 3:12–13 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13 And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.)

E: YOU can’t do it without HIS help, and his help comes through Love: Matthew 22:37-39 37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” In other words, we make a conscious decision to correct our thinking, our communications, and our behaviors and we make that decision continuously public through our actions. That’s repentance in a nutshell. Narrator, what’s your take?

N: (The Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC] §982 begins with “There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. “There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest. Christ, who died for all men, desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin. §983 Catechesis strives to awaken and nourish in the faithful faith in the incomparable greatness of the risen Christ’s gift to his Church: the mission and the power to forgive sins through the ministry of the apostles and their successors.)

F: Who is that guy? What’s going on, anyway?

E: We’re just trying to tell you two things [1] if you sincerely confess your sins, there’s forgiveness – you acknowledge your sins and repent. That’s necessary because repentance is turning away from sin – which we recognize and regret – so that we turn again toward God. In this case, repentance involves something many people don’t think about: Conversion.

F: You mean like the “born-again Christians” on TV?

E: In a way, yes, we do need real conversion. Here, let’s ask that narrator again for some help.

N: (CCC §1427: Jesus calls [us] to conversion. This call is an essential part of the proclamation of the kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” §1429 St. Peter’s conversion after he had denied his master three times bears witness to this. Jesus’ look of infinite mercy drew tears of repentance from Peter and, after the Lord’s resurrection, a threefold affirmation of love for him. The second conversion also has a communitarian dimension, as is clear in the Lord’s call to a whole Church: “Repent!” St. Ambrose says of the two conversions that, in the Church, “there are water and tears: the water of Baptism and the tears of repentance.” §1431 Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus [affliction of spirit] and compunctio cordis [repentance of heart]. Emphasis added.)

E: It’s that interior repentance, the “radical reorientation of our whole life” you seem to be wondering about. Trust me, everyone feels the same way, like we should be able to stop being so sinful. Even the Apostle Paul wrote about that.

N: (Take a look at what the Apostle Paul said: Romans 7:15-20 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.)

E: Now, Frank, do you think Paul worried about whether or not God could forgive him even if he never lost his sinfulness? You see, God can, and does, forgive our sins, and then he forgets them. We don’t need to keep reminding him of stuff he’s already forgiven and forgotten. Think about conversion. Is that something you can do?

F: Like that song “Just As I Am?” (↔ Music Link)

E: Not quite. Jesus expects you to repent, not just show up without doing anything about your sin. He does certainly accept you as you are as a sinner – you don’t have to wait until you’re holy to repent, because you repent to approach holiness – but he wants you to take it through the process of conversion. Remember he said, “Repent, and believe the Gospel.” Believing the Gospel without repentance will leave you dissatisfied. Is that how you feel now?

F: I admit, I was feeling like that, but it I feel have some things to think about. It seems that metanoia is a change not only in heart and mind but also – and most importantly – a change in actions and behavior. I can change my actions and behavior at least a little and if it doesn’t last long, I can try again, right?

E: That’s right. There’s no limit (N: ← Check it out!) on how many times you can repent – of anything or everything – as long as it includes the aspect of conversion – that “firm purpose of amendment” in the Act of Contrition. Conversion is the key to sincere contrition and effective repentance no matter how many times you have to do it. If Jesus is as real to you as he was to the Disciples at the Ascension, then that should help you realize that you’re confessing to him, not “just Fr. Kelly.” That’s because God’s Mercy is the result of his Justice being dispensed in Love that is so complete and unwavering, so steadfast and constant that we cannot comprehend its full extent. The best we can do is to think of Grace, “the free gift and unmerited favor of God,” which is always available to everyone.

F: You’ve given me a lot to think about. That narrator, too. Maybe I should get home and pull out the laptop and find the Catechism of the Catholic Church (↔ Click Link) and look for the word “repent” I can get some more ideas.

E: Good thinking. RIGHT THINKING! Say hi to Ethel when you get home.

F: Thanks. I will. I wonder if that narrator will be around?

E: I imagine so. He’s got some closing remarks to do here.

N: (Thank you guys for being frank and earnest in your conversation. )

E: Very funny.

F: Yeah, like who else could we be?

N: (It sounds like maybe we need to think more about why we DON’T repent. You folks out there, reading this, WHAT STOPS US FROM REPENTING? That’s something to think about, OK? For next week try thinking about who repents to whom, and why we often decide not to repent.)

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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