“Does our law condemn a person before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” John 7:51
“Because this is God’s strength; turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God, life never dies.” Pope Francis (special Urbi et Orbi blessing)
If ever there were truer words for a convert like me, these are it. I was struck this morning by their bluntness, by Nicodemus’ convicting words, and for the fire and anguish with which he delivered them. His words go to the heart of belief, the pain of conversion and the open truth about the people who once occupied the space of those of us who have upended our lives for Christ.
Upon my initial descent of conversion, there was much chaos and confusion among those that knew me. And the Pharisaical nature in a human being is not just limited to those people who didn’t accept me, it is a metaphor for the people in this world who deem themselves the “chief priests,” the holder of every truth, unwilling to open themselves up to the possibility that conversion of the soul is not an act not of one’s own will, but of God’s.
I didn’t even have a chance to explain myself before the hate poured in. There were few people in my community that wanted or even cared to hear my story. My story is not unlike Christ’s, as He was also ousted from his community, deemed a blasphemer and ultimately put to death for it.
The New Testament is filled with this conundrum. Before Jesus even has a chance to speak to people and explain, they choose to hate him or more importantly they choose to not believe Him, even before he opens his mouth. And more than my conversion, isn’t that what we do to people all the time? Fail to hear them out? Judge them before they even speak?
For a truth seeker like me, I was willing to go to places and hear things to discern for myself what divine truth was. I studied many different religions, attended a broad spectrum of services, and most importantly listened. My heart and soul were open to the universe. I needed, wanted and craved truth. I had to find a sustainable answer to my pain, what my purpose was on this earth. I knew if I didn’t, I may not end up alive.
I gave everyone a chance. Heard people out. Traveled. Studied. Spent late nights searching. Hit the bottom. Was at my darkest hour. Then He appeared.
It is only when we are open to God’s invisible plan that He will be visible to us
My conversion was nothing short of a miracle, but that miracle cost me my life- it cost me everything.
and one’s enemies will be those of his own household, Matthew 10:36
And why would a person willingly give up everything, family, friends to follow Christ? Who in their right mind would choose to be separated from the people that they love?
Because truth is more and losing one’s life for the answer to every life question is eternal
I have loved every minute of my journey, the joy and the pain. I love those who have left me, who did not stick around to listen to what I had to say and I love those who stayed. I love the people who condemned me when I left my non-denominational church and I love those that listened. I love the Catholics who mocked me for adhering to the catechism and the authority of the Magisterium and I love those Catholics who accepted me and treated me like I was one of their own. I love because He loved me first. Because He loves them too. Because He laid down His life for me, as I have for Him.
Today, I ask you to be introspective. Make the scripture bigger than yourself. Are you the Pharisee, the chief priest who has closed their ears off to any possible truth? Are you unwilling to hear what someone around you is saying because you have already judged it as untrue? Could your answer be right in front of you, yet you choose not to listen? You may be surprised at where those answers comes from-
God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being may boast before God. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29