Msgr. Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington maintained in a blog post from August 2013 that the Catholic church often suffers from a fear of preaching repentance and conversion. I don’t think much has changed in the few years since that post, other than it may be even more true today than it was then. Many of us are embarrassed to speak the truth about Jesus’ command that we must repent because the idea of conversion is often at odds with “Consumer Christianity.”
As consumers we want things our way, and right away, which is usually contrary to God’s way and his timing. For Christians in a consumer culture the temptation is that we don’t want to really change…we want blessings and we want to be entertained. We petition God for a promotion, a new iPhone or a new car. We want God to give us what WE want. After all, we deserve it!
The bottom line is that Christianity is NOT about US…it’s about Christ and doing his will. It’s about dying to our selfishness so that he can live within us. It’s about us SERVING him, not him serving us. True discipleship involves embracing the cross, not about getting everything we want from a god who is there to shower gifts upon us or entertain us. Carrying our cross and being obedient to the teachings of Christ’s Church is hard, but it is ultimately the source of the greatest joy as it leads us into eternal life.
Here’s an excerpt from Msgr. Pope’s article…I suggest you read it and reflect deeply on what it is in your life that needs to change.
“Too many Catholics are uncomfortable using the biblical and traditional words, “Repent,” convert and conversion. To repent means to change your mind and come to a new way of living. To convert means to turn from sinful ways or erroneous teaching.
But the fact is, many, including us, need on-going conversion. And a good number need outright conversion And a complete change of mind, heart and behavior. Of course repentance and the call to conversion are a key biblical summons. repentance is not suggested, it is commanded, and without it we will not see the kingdom of God.
Perhaps a central reason for the embarrassment many feel at the call to repentance and conversion is that it runs a foul of a kind of “consumer Christianity” wherein faith is reduced to using God’s grace to access blessings but not to give one’s life over to Jesus Christ in love and obedience. Consumer Christianity targets “seekers” looking for enrichment rather than disciples. The heart of discipleship is, as Jesus says, is to “Deny yourself, take up your Cross, and follow me.”
But when faith is reduced to personal enrichment, true discipleship seems obnoxious and words like repentance, conversion, and concepts like self denial, and the cross are non-starters and rejected as negative, judgemental, and, to use consumer language, is bad marketing.And why does Jesus lead with this? Because the joy and enrichment of salvation cannot be accessed except through repentance and conversion. Eternal Life cannot be accessed except through turning our back on this world and dying to it. Easter Sunday is accessed only through Good Friday.
Consumer Christianity cannot save. Repentance and conversion, even if not popular in marketing focus groups of “seeker-sensitive” mega-churches, must be recovered in the call and vocabulary of the Church. Watering down the very thing Jesus led with is no way to make true disciples.”
May God bless you with a sacred Holy Week. My prayer for you is that you turn your life over completely to Christ so that he might live in you more fully and fill you with the joy than only comes when we die to ourselves and live for him.