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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Homily 11-3-2013 --- Conversion = Grace + Response ("Co-operation")

Today a simple math equation: Conversion = Grace + Response ("Co-operation")
Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman said, "To live is to change; and to live well is to have changed often."  The saints are masters at changing - changing their disordered hearts to follow God closer and closer in every aspect of their life.  That is what conversion is: change.  And it requires two things.
Hence the simple equation: Conversion = Grace + Response ("Co-operation")
In our First Reading, The Lord God always seeks out the sinner, Wisdom tells us. Jesus makes this very clear today as he finds a rich man ready to turn his heart to from past wickedness, a man longing to see Him and know Him. Zacchaeus is a great example for us all: a man whom the crowd tries to keep away from Christ is humble enough to climb a tree, is surprised enough to jump down the tree and host the Man of God, is inspired enough to give away his possessions to those whom justice and charity would request.
Today we see conversion at its best: a work of God that we ourselves take part in. Zacchaeus needed God's grace to have that longing in his heart for Jesus; But he needed to climb the tree himself. He needed Christ to invite Himself to his home; but Zacchaeus had to accept the invitation and make preparations in the face of scornful onlookers. Zacchaeus graciously received the loving gaze of God in the eyes of the Savior; but the choice to change his life was still his own.
CCC 2022 The divine initiative in the work of grace precedes, prepares, and elicits the free response of man. Grace responds to the deepest yearnings of human freedom, calls freedom to cooperate with it, and perfects freedom.

CCC 1430 Jesus' call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, "sackcloth and ashes," fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance.

CCC 1428 Christ's call to conversion continues to resound in the lives of Christians. This second conversion is an uninterrupted task for the whole Church who, "clasping sinners to her bosom, [is] at once holy and always in need of purification, [and] follows constantly the path of penance and renewal."18 This endeavor of conversion is not just a human work. It is the movement of a "contrite heart," drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first.

Finally, a point of first decision: in order to be seen with the healing love of Christ's gaze, we must be little enough, that is, humble enough, to climb the tree – the tree of the Cross. When we climb that tree and cling to that Cross, when we meditate upon the sign of our salvation, we will see the love of God, drawing us to prayer where we invite the Savior into the home of our souls. There we are healed, there we are changed, and there salvation comes to our house.

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