On Ash Wednesday we heard, “Come back to me with all your heart.” My call to conversion this year is framed in the words of Fr. Virgil Elizondo, “¼a discovery of the goodness within us that we have not yet activated.” Many years ago I thought of Lent as returning to the loving embrace (arms) of God our Father. I used another expression then, “to be hugged by God.” It seems to me that when we do get a good hug we are affirmed in our goodness. We must let ourselves be hugged by God this Lent. We must let our loving Sacred Heart of Jesus speak to our hearts. He wants us to hear of our goodness.
When we come in contact with the holy, we also become more aware of the unholy in us. The Pope’s words for Ash Wednesday some years ago, speak about what conversion means:
“Let us understand the appeal the austere rite of ashes addresses to us, one expressed in two formulas: ‘Repent and believe the Gospel’ and ‘You are dust and to dust you shall return’.”The first is a call to conversion, a word that must be considered in its extraordinary seriousness. The call to conversion, in fact, exposes and denounces the easy superficiality that often characterizes our life. Conversion means to change direction in the path of our life: not, however, a small adjustment, but a real turnaround.
“Conversion is to swim against a current of lifestyle that is superficial, incoherent and illusory, a current that often drag us down, dominates us and makes us slaves of evil or at least prisoners of moral mediocrity. With conversion, instead, we aim for the high standard of Christian life, we entrust ourselves to the living and personal Gospel, which is Jesus. He is the path we all are called to follow in life, allowing ourselves to be enlightened by His light and supported by His strength that moves our feet. Conversion is not simply a moral decision that corrects the way we live, but it is a choice of faith that draws us fully into intimate communion with the living and concrete person of Jesus.”His person is the final goal, He is the deepest meaning of conversion. Repent and believe the Gospel are not two different or casually combined things, rather they express the same reality. Conversion is the total ‘yes’ of those who surrender their lives to the Gospel, responding freely to Christ who first offers Himself to man as the way, truth and life, as the only one who liberates and saves.