A Call to Positive Change & Newness

07-07-2024Weekly ReflectionFr. Tony Okolo C.S.Sp., V.F.

Beloved Parishioners,

I continue my reflection with you in this Pastor’s Corner and today, after my summer vacation, I want to share a reflection on what can bring a positive change in our spiritual life. We read how Saul changed to Paul following his Damascus experience of Christ (Acts 9:1-9) and how Christ himself renamed Simon, the head of the apostles, Cephas or Peter (John 1:42), but I really wonder if we have ever thought of the significance of the great change that comes with an encounter with Jesus Christ.

As I have always said, no one encounters Christ and remains the same. One thing is certain any encounter with Jesus brings a positive change. Paul, the great evangelizer, reassures us of this when he stated that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17)

We commit to this continuing change and renewal when we frequent the Eucharist. Every time this mystery is celebrated, “the work of our redemption is carried on” and we “break the one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live forever in Jesus Christ.” (CCC, 1405). This presupposes that we remain faithful to the sacrament of penance or conversion which is the hub of our spiritual and physical renewal. It is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus’ call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father from whom one has strayed by sin.

Daily renewal happens by the grace of God, yet it requires something of us, too. God has His part; we have ours. The kind of renewal that makes the greatest impact in our lives happens every day; it is defined by our diligence, our decision each day to take time for the nurturing of our spiritual life. Our part translates to a focus on the simple acts that make up our faith lives already: reflection, prayer, action. Renewal happens when we take time each day to reflect and open ourselves to humility. A humble heart is a heart renewed. The Word of God brings us renewal when we engage it to help us know and do God’s will for our lives. Knowing comes from staying close to God in prayer; doing comes from staying God-centered in daily life. When we work to emulate Jesus, there is renewal.

This change and renewal that we talk about is not only on a personal level. On the ecclesial level, we see that the Church renews herself too. In fact, the Church cannot exist without renewal just as we have seen with the Vatican II renewal. Therefore, we ourselves must channel our individual renewal to reflect in the community. We encounter Christ, get transformed, and thus get commissioned to become agents of change poised to transform others by the examples of our lives. We must learn to show concern about the community in which we live and associate as a catalyst of change. Hebrews 10:24-25 exhorts us “to be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other.”

The Holy Spirit, who is the agent of renewal, bids us to emulate the lives of the saints who have lived before us and fashion our lives in the way that is pleasing to God. We must strive every day to die to sin and not make the worldly standards our rule. As Saint Paul tells us “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)

May our Blessed Mother and all the Saints continue to intercede for us to remain committed in our resolve to attain this newness. Amen. Do have a blessed week ahead.