As disciples of our Lord we spend ourselves to our limits in making His good news known. But, just as we spend ourselves in His name, every so often we run into periods of frustration and exhaustion which can lead us into doubt. Thoughts such as – I have given my life to my God; why isn’t my life easier? Why isn’t my witness met with more interest than derision? Why do I receive ridicule instead of curiosity? Why don’t people want what I have? – enter into our hearts and minds. It is all too easy to question our choice for God, our vocation as His disciple, within this attitude of despondency. And this is made all more difficult by Satan who looks for these cracks in us; as we hear in Peter’s first letter: ‘Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.’
Tomorrow (January 25th) we celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul; it is one of my favorites. For me, this is a feast that shows me the truth about successful discipleship – conversion.
Tomorrow’s feast is all about conversion. To only think of St. Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus does this feast a disservice because it hides a most important aspect of his conversion; St. Paul’s conversion is a lifelong conversion. Pope St. John Paul the great wrote: ‘His conversion on the road to Damascus was immediate and radical, but he had to live it in faith and perseverance for long years of apostolate: from that moment on his life had to be an incessant conversion, a continual renewal.’
Brothers and sisters, let’s take tomorrow’s Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul as a time to look at what conversion means in our lives. It is not a onetime thing, it is constant. As St. Paul was constantly tested in his faith, so will we. As we are challenged almost daily to prove our discipleship, so was he. Each morning St. Paul woke up and made the decision to take up his witness again, so should we. Each evening he laid his head down in review of how his decision for the day went, so should we. Being challenged day in and day out, being exhausted in the Lord’s work day in and day out, is the way of continual conversion; because it is our response to these hardships that builds our lives into a continual ‘yes’ to God. It is not easy but it is necessary; the path to conversion is through the cross since it is by the cross that we have the chance to begin with.
This is a tough road – this road of conversion. What can we do to assure our ‘yes’ to our constant and continual conversion? Abandon yourself to Him! Surrender to the will of Love Himself. ‘Depend on Jesus for everything.’ Trust in He who never leaves. Live within the ever open embrace of Mercy.
I will finish with a beautiful quote from St. Josemaría Escrivá, one that I go back to time and time again; it helps against those doubting times: ‘Each day, O my God, I am less sure of myself and more sure of you!’