The word conversion many times puts us in
crisis because we do not understand what
it really means. Just an improvement on our
previous records of holiness? A renovation
of some sorts in our spiritual life? Or a
radical change of lifestyle? These two stories
In ancient Greece, the marathon contest was
the most illustrious of all races. All the
main athletes of the country were there.
This was a unique moment to show their skills.
Then there appeared this fine man, muscular
physique, obviously well trained. The other
athletes realized immediately they had no
chance of winning the race. So, some of them
tried to bribe him out of the race, offering
him good sums of money, even property. This
athlete did not budge. He was all focused
on winning. The prize was a magnificent garland
of flowers and the honor of standing beside
the king until the conclusion of the other
contests. And sure enough, he won easily,
outdistancing the others by a good measure.
When all the commotion was over, some of
his close friends approached him and asked
him whether it was worthwhile to sacrifice
all those good offers of money and land for
a garland of flowers. His answer was simple.
"I did not enter the race for the flowers.
I ran so that I could stand beside my king!"
This is conversion! We are 'running' in life
not for a bunch of flowers - whatever the
flowers may be in our lives - but to stand
besides 'our' King.
Ignace Jan Paderewski was one of the most
renowned pianist in the whole world. He came
from Poland and his debut at Carnegie Hall
in the US was in 1891. One day he accepted
the invitation to attend a piano recital
in which his friend's small girl was going
to play. The girl however, when she saw the
famous pianist sitting in the audience -
she knew Paderewski very well because of
the friendship with her father - got stage
fright and made a complete mess of her piece.
She broke down in tears. At that, Paderewski
stood up, went up the stage, tenderly kissed
her on the forehead and left. It was an emotional
moment for many who witnessed the scene.
Obviously if she had not made the mistake
and failed, she would not have received a
kiss of love and understanding from the master
pianist. If it is not for all our messiness
and faltering we shall never experience the
tender kisses of our master God! This also
Many times God does not appear to be fair.
Jacob was denounced by God for his conniving
ways an yet he was preferred to his brother
Esau. David was disowned for his adultery,
treacherous murder and many bloody battles
that he staged and yet he was chosen to lead
the nation. The adulteress was not condemned
for her open disregard of the moral laws.
Peter was not disowned by God after his blatant
denial of Christ in the courtyard. Paul chosen
for an important mission even if persecuted
the Christians in his early life.
Why? That is the question: Why? And the answer
is because there is nothing in the world
as tenacious and resolute as the grace of
God. This also is conversion!
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
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