Repentance, conversion, Christian consistency

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

THE gospel of Friday of the 26th Week in Ordinary Time, (cfr. Lk 10,13-16) celebrated on September 30 this year, reminds us that we all need repentance and conversion, since we are all sinners. Besides, we are also called to live Christian consistency such that whoever sees and listens to us would see and listen to God himself.

Let’s be frank about ourselves. We are all sinners! No matter how much we try to be good and holy—and to a certain extent, we can actually manage to achieve that ideal to some degree—we can still find ourselves falling into sin, if not big ones, then small ones, which can actually be more dangerous since we can tend to take them for granted, until we get used to them and would not feel anymore the need for repentance and conversion.

Christ expressed this concern when he reproached some people for not repenting in spite of the many good things he had done for them. “Woe to you, Chorazine! Woe to you, Bethsaida!” he said. “For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes.” (Mt 11,21)

We have to understand that conversion is a continuing affair for all of us in this life. We can never say, if we have to follow by what our Christian faith tells us, that we are so good as to need conversion no more.

We are all sinners, St. John said. And even the just man, as the Bible said, falls seven times in a day.

Besides, it is this sense of continuing conversion that would really ensure us that whatever we do, whatever would happen to us, including our failures and defeats, would redound to what is truly good for the parties concerned and for everybody else in general.

That’s because conversion brings us and everything that we have done in life to a reconciliation with God, from whom we come and to whom we go. And once converted, let us strive to live Christian consistency all the time.

In the gospel, there is a part where Christ gave a stinging rebuke of the leading Jews at that time. “Do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,” he said, “but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.” (cfr. Mt 23,1-12)

It’s Christ’s call for us to practice sincerity and consistency in our life, avoiding even the slightest trace of hypocrisy and double life. In fact, we should develop what is called as unity of life, rooted on our earnest effort to identify ourselves with Christ who is the pattern of our humanity, the savior of our damaged humanity.

We have to understand that only with Christ can we aspire to have unity and consistency in our life, one that is not rigid. Rather it is a consistency and unity that knows how to adapt itself properly given the different and changing conditions and circumstances of our life.

So, we really have to earnestly pursue the effort of living and defending our Christian identity all the time. We should not be afraid to show our Christian identity at all times and in all situations. We should not be Christian by name only, but also by our thoughts, desires and deeds, and in all aspects of our life. We should not be Christian in good times only, but also, and most especially, in bad times. We should not be Christian only in our sacred moments, but also in our mundane activities.