Keeping Faith Alive – Part 2


Be in your prayer space, follow the usual steps and settle into silence.

Sit still…..Relax…….Do not rush………

Take a couple of gentle, slow and deep breaths…becoming aware of your breath going in and out… stay focused on this breath of life……

Now from the depth of your heart begin to wish your mind well……….

Take a moment. Bless your day. Let your day Bless you……Take another moment. Bless your world. Let your world bless you……

Every day that we wake up is a good day. Every breath that we take is filled with hope for a better day. Every word that we speak is a chance to change what is bad into something good…….Now from the depth of heart, wish your mind well……

Now I invite you to consecrate this day and all that come with this day….in your own way, in humble, simple, may be even inadequate words………..

I pray for you and I pray for all, who, at this moment, are receiving the gift of this new day! May God bless you and keep you safe in the center of His Love!

I invite you to pray for each other and for all, who, at this moment, are receiving the gift of this new day!

We continue our meditation on conversion as an ongoing process, a way of life, a journey of faith, a continuing experience of forgiveness and grace.

Our Sacred scriptures hold out to us many men and women who had a conversion of life as models to follow. One of the experiences that was common to most of those who had a real conversion, was a sense of sin, of imperfection, of inadequacy and incompleteness. Each of them heard a call to turn away from the former way of life to a radically new way of life; from the way of the world to the way of the kingdom of God; from the way of sin to the way of Grace; from selfishness to graciousness; from hate to love and so on.

Abraham turned from the worship of many gods to a covenant with the one true God; Moses turned from being a murderer to the defender of the law of God; Paul turned from being a persecutor of Christians to the defender of Christ and proclaimer of the Gospel; Augustine turned from a life of sin to a life of Grace and gave us a theology of Grace; Matt Talbot turned from being an alcoholic to the helper of addicts; Thomas Merton turned from being a communist to a contemplative Christian……You may know someone who has had such a radical conversion!
Conversion is not just about turning away from something. It is about turning toward something greater and life-giving. Real conversion is always a turning toward…and for us men and women of faith conversion is always a turning toward the gift of God’s Grace that draws us in.

Such turning toward – conversion – is the beginning of real faith experience and it is an ongoing, life long process!

Such conversion implies recognition of sin, failure, imperfection and incompletion. It implies even more the recognition of God’s Grace drawing us out of sinfulness into gracefulness.

“…the Lord appeared to Abraham and said, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless” (Genesis 17:1.) God has a simple requirement for all who would want to walk with Him: “Be blamelessness”. Responding to this call, Abraham began a journey of faith which ends in Jesus and yet continues in us today!

Psalm 15 speaks of the person who walks in integrity, wholeness, holiness, perfection…’s about the person who walks blamelessly in the face of God!

The Psalmist asks: “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken” (Psalm 15 )

The word “blameless” in Psalm 15 has the same root word as “complete” and “whole”. It describes a person of integrity. Jesus, in the beatitudes, calls this “purity of heart” and “single mindedness”.

Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines “Pure” as : Unmixed with any other matter; free from dust, dirt, or taint; spotless, stainless; free from harshness or roughness and being in tune; being thus and no other; free from what vitiates or pollutes; containing nothing that does not properly belong; free from moral fault or guilt; clean; chaste; etc.

“Purity” as described in the beatitude is about the quality of being “single”, being “one”, being “unmixed”, being “undivided”, being “integrated”, Being “whole” – a thing being what it is made to be. Becoming single-minded is an ongoing life long process.

Blamelessness is an inner disposition, an attitude and a quality of our heart. Blamelessness is not the same as faultlessness. If a young child wants to help his parents clean up the house but drops a bowl and breaks it, the child is not faultless, but he is blameless. His heart had the desire to help his parents. In the same way, God is looking at our heart’s attitude. Holiness begins in the heart. Jesus speaks of “purity of heart” – the “pure of heart will see God” and the “blameless will walk in Gods’ presence”.
Psalm 32 calls all God’s people to pray for the removal of guilt and shame. It is pure joy to have your community pray for your forgiveness and healing and protection from evil. Then the Psalmist says, “Let me teach you the way”. The way means, the way back, the way by which life can be renewed and the way is “conversion”, turning around and accepting the steadfast love of God!

Zacchaeus was on a tree taking a look at Jesus through the leaves. At the call of Jesus, he came down. And he stood his ground and said to the Lord: “I will give half my belongings to the poor and if I have cheated anyone, I will give them fourfold.” This is another way of saying, ‘I will restructure my life’ (Lk.19:1-10). This is the nature of real conversion, the type of conversion that lets our faith come to life.

I do not remember where I read the following story or who told me the story. Please read it and give it a thought.
Several years ago I was invited to hear an important speaker address the student body of a small college in South Carolina. The auditorium was filled with students excited about the opportunity to hear a person of her stature speak. After the governor gave the introduction, the speaker moved to the microphone, looked at the audience from left to right, and began:
“I was born to a mother who was deaf and could not speak. I do not know who my father is or was. The first job I ever had was in a cotton field.”
The audience was spellbound. “Nothing has to remain the way it is if that’s not the way a person wants it to be,” she continued. “It isn’t luck, and it isn’t circumstances, and it isn’t being born a certain way that causes a person’s future to become what it becomes.” And she softly repeated, “Nothing has to remain the way it is if that’s not the way a person wants it to be.
“All a person has to do,” she added in a firm voice, “to change a situation that brings unhappiness or dissatisfaction is answer the question: “’How do I want this situation to become?’ Then the person must commit totally to personal actions that carry them there.”
Then a beautiful smile shone forth as she said, “My name is Azie Taylor Morton. I stand before you today as treasurer of the United States of America.”

Azie Taylor Morton chose to change her situation and gave herself to that decision. Each of us must choose to change. We know that the Grace of God is with us helping us choose and enabling us to be faithful to the choice we made. The Grace of God calls for conversion, the Grace of God helps us to choose to respond to the call and the Grace of God enables us to be faithful to the choice we made. How blessed….How Graced we are!

May the “Year of Faith” be God’s wonderful gift to you and I pray that you will make it a gracious and joyful gift to others.

Fr. Gus Tharappel, msfs

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