Conversion Time Lent Part 1

Conversion Time Lent Part 1

Lent is conversion time and the particular journey of conversion is called RCIA.
Historically, right up to today, the Church has used three passages from St. John’s Gospel for this immediate preparation for Easter. Every Parish that is celebrating the Reception of New Catholics into the Church must use these passages, through which we all radically discover the meaning of our baptismal life.

These 3 events recorded in John’s Gospel account, comprise half of Lent which originally was only about a week long – the week that we know as Holy Week.  It gradually grew in length to become what is now our 40 Holy days.  Always, Lent has been the time of immediate preparation for those becoming initiated into the Church.  We all need conversion.  We all need to renew the commitment of our Baptismal call.  We all need to scrutinize our hearts and minds.  We all need to be washed clean in the blood of the lamb – to rediscover God’s love for us and all of his creation – to claim it and proclaim it.  This time of being washed in the blood of the lamb is called the “great trial” in the Book of Revelation.

We all need to say – “I thirst”, “Sir, give me this living water”;
“I was blind and now I see”;
“Yes, Lord I believe you are the one who has come into the world”;”Lord you have the words of eternal life”;
“Come and see the one who has told me all about myself”.

The Church calls us to conversion by asking us to enter into three meetings with Jesus taken from The Gospel of John:

The Woman at the Well  (Jn 4:1-42)- the woman comes to draw water from the well. Jesus draws faith from within the depth of her being and she becomes a disciple.

The Man Born Blind  (Jn 9)  –    Jesus gives sight and insight –  that is faith to the blind man, and in the face of ridicule and abandonment by his family he becomes a disciple. This takes place at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles also called the Feast of Lights.

The Raising of Lazarus(Jn 11:1-44)  –  Jesus “loved” Martha, Mary and Lazarus and calls them to new life and draws faith from them, revealing to them eternal life with God..  This becomes the most immediate reason for the arrest and death of Jesus at Passover.

These Readings are central to the conversion experience, not only for new Catholics but for all Catholics as we are called to conversion of mind, heart and lives during these 40 holy days – “the great trial” – the way of the Cross, not only in Lent but throughout life.

We are all the Man Born Blind, the Woman at the Well.  Both are outcasts, counted as sinners.  We all face ultimate death- which is in truth the mystery of Eternal Life.  We are all dead or dying in aspects of our life – fearful and confused like Martha and Mary- even though they were good friends of Jesus who spent time at their home on his journeys to various parts of Palestine.

These 3 Readings are called the Scrutinies.  They comprise 3 weeks of looking at the Lord and seeing ourselves through his eyes, as he loves us into internal healing, peace, new life and commitment.  This can only truly be the time of renewal that it is meant to be by our deliberately putting aside what clutters our life.  In fact, lent calls us to go on retreat in the midst of the ‘dailiness’ of our life. If we look at the three episodes that comprise the Scrutinies we see that in each of them Jesus is journeying with his disciples.  They happen in the day to day of their lives, as Jesus journeys to his final visit to Jerusalem. Our final journey is to the heavenly Jerusalem and can only be entered through the way of suffering, The Way of the Cross.

We are, by our baptism, disciples of Jesus.  Each present moment is a revelation of who Jesus is and what he is calling us to see, to be and to do.  Nothing is by chance – such as Jesus meeting a woman at the well at the hottest time of the day.  There are no coincidences – such as Jesus meeting a blind beggar at the Festival of Lights and giving light to his eyes.  There is nothing inconsequential, or meaningless,such as one of his best friends becoming sick and dying.  And there is no one who is insignificant, such as a blind beggar and a sinful woman. Through all things the glory of God is revealed. All things are with and in and through the Lord and lead to the Lord.  All of creation comes from the hand of God, is marred by sin, and has been washed in the blood of the Lamb.  We, during lent, are called to become reconnected with this all encompassing truth, allowing Jesus to embrace us into discipleship.  Will we be there in the Upper Room?  Will we walk out of the Upper Room on our own or with Jesus?  Will we be in the Garden?  Will we be at the foot of the Cross in the embrace of John and Mary, while Jesus’ blood drips on us?  Will we say at the end of Lent “I have seen the Lord!”

With open hearts and minds let us begin our forty days of retreat in the day to day of our life, seeing each day, each event of each day through the eyes of faith – the eyes of the Love of Jesus. And let us take the risk of allowing ourselves to see ourselves as Jesus loves us – with no pretenses.