Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Third Tuesday of Advent: Gradual Conversion of Heart

“When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did.  Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.” – Mt. 21:32

God’s Word can challenge and console at the same time. Today’s Gospel brings bad news before the good. Jesus’ parable about the two sons unmasks our tendencies as believers to preach more than we practice. We say and promise trust and surrender, yet our actions show otherwise.

There is someone close to me who brings about allergies in me. Whenever he speaks with a certain tone or acts in a particular way, I get annoyed and judgmental. It’s like an inconvenient bomb goes off within me. He has little idea. But I find myself impatient, mostly with myself. I can easily give in to the temptation to withdraw. Deep down I know it’s an invitation to be transformed, healed, or freed. Yet, I feel a resistance and hardening of heart.

Advent prepares us for metanoia, which literally means “beyond mind”  (metá-noos). It involves a shift in mindset, a different way of seeing that triggers a conversion of heart in the way we relate to God, others, and self. A radical change takes place, like those who we consider tax collectors and prostitutes entering God’s kingdom before us – those who profess to believe.

It’s a wake-up call to recognize that my mind and heart are much smaller than I admit. Yet, when I take a step back, I see hope. If such life-giving transformations can take place in others, it can happen to me. It’s sobering to know that I fall short; it’s also freeing to realize that I do not have to “make it happen.” I can ask for help, humbly accept the “bad” news. Slowly, slowly, God’s totally free gift of grace will bring about Good News and good changes.

LORD, enable me to truly ask for help and patiently wait for your “slow” work in me.

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