Author: Chad Hyatt
Reflection: v. 15, ‘change your hearts and lives’
Jesus calls us to conversion—and by our conversion, the world around us. Lasting change happens in that order. Jesus proclaims the kingdom of God, yes, but he also lives it—so much so as to become the very word he preaches to us. Jürgen Moltmann describes Jesus as ‘the kingdom of God in person.’ By the witness of his own life, Jesus calls us to change our own hearts and lives. He models for us the grace-filled possibility of God at work in his life—and we call it good news. The call to conversion is simply the invitation to be like him. Transformation does not come by coercion. We do not repair the world by proselytizing—which ends so often by making those we hope to convert ‘twice as much a child of hell’ as ourselves, as Jesus once remarked about the tactics of his erstwhile opponents, the Pharisees. Change in the world happens by the witness of our transformed—and transforming—lives. This is how the world we so desperately want to change actually changes. But as my sisters and brothers taking the road of recovery one day at a time already know, change is only possible when we pursue it together in community. We don’t get there on our own. As a brother recently said in Bible study, we need examples—folks who are just a few steps ahead to show us what might be possible for us, too. In the Bible and in Christian tradition, those folks are also called saints. Francis of Assisi saw himself as a perpetual ‘penitent’—a man in constant conversion, forever allowing mercy to change his heart and life. Such a self-identification wasn’t borne out of false humility—but out of fearless honesty. If we are to love as God loves, we must be always in the process of moving infinitely outward, progressively farther into the fullness of God’s unfailing love. Whether you just picked up your first sobriety chip at a group meeting, or you are beginning to see the realities of systemic racism for the first time, or you are sharing a meal with someone in need of what you’ve taken for granted and find your heart breaking a little, Jesus is calling us to a life of never-ending conversion.
Prayer God of St. Francis, may we always be transformed by your love.