32. A NEW LIFE. Conversion experience

Conversion experience

1. The faith experience means the real acknowledgment of Jesus like Lord (He is with you) and the conversion (fundamental) to the justice of the Gospel. This means a new relationship with respect to God (Only one God and only one Lord), a new relationship with respect to the others and also and also respect to oneself. It means a step from the old man to the new man, “a new life” (Rm 6, 4).

2. Paul knows it by experience. That who has met Christ is like if he were born again, a “new man” (2 Co 5, 17). In some sense, in the meeting with Christ he has been created again. The depth of this relationship is expressed in this manner: “I do live, but I am not myself, it is Christ who lives in me!” (Ga 2, 20).

3. The acknowledgment of Christ takes Paul out of himself, it knocks down his old centres of interest, it reverses his hierarchy of values, it changes the bases of his world: “But once I found Christ, all those things that I might have considered as profit, I reckoned as loss. Still more, everything seems to me as nothing compared with the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord. For his sake I have let everything fall away and I now consider all as garbage, if instead I may gain Christ. May I be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the Law, but with the righteousness that God gives to those who believe.” (Phil 3, 7 – 9)

4. This new life manifests itself like a conversion experience. The Decalogue’s moral ideal not only is accomplished “up to the last i” (Mt 5, 18), but it is even exceeded. Jesus proclaims in a global way, the orientation of the Christian existence, configured by  God´s gift and the conversion to the justice of the Gospel, a justice that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees (5, 20), of publicans and gentiles (5, 46 – 47),  a justice similar to that of the celestial father (5, 45 – 48), the justice of the kingdom of God. It is the justice of the Christian community, that in that magna letter finds its own identity. And it is the justice offered to the world, that – with that salt – can be preserved from corruption and – with that light – can be liberated from darkness (5, 13 – 16).

5. It is important. The evangelization process is developed in the field of the fight and, so, of the temptation. “The spiritual combat is as brutal as the human war”, said Paul Claudel talking about his conversion. Conversion marks the step from a world to the other, from a way of life to other, from a standard of values to another, from a false god to the living God of Jesus Christ. The conversion requests, then, a strong renounce  (really to everything) and offers a total liberation. Nothing of this is made without fights and resistances. As Jesus says, the cross marks the frontier from a situation to another: “If you want to follow me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” (Mk 8, 34). To evangelize means a process of overcoming resistances. Or, what is the same, it jeans to throw devils away (Mt 1, 39)

5. Es importante. El proceso de evangelización se desarrolla en un campo de lucha y, por tanto, de tentación. "El combate espiritual es tan brutal como la guerra humana", decía Paul Claudel a propósito de su conversión. La conversión marca el paso de un mundo a otro, de un modo de vivir a otro, de una escala de valores a otra, de un dios falso al Dios vivo de Jesucristo. La conversión pide, por tanto, una fuerte renuncia (en el fondo, a todo) y ofrece una total liberación. Todo lo cual no se hace sin luchas y resistencias. Como dice Jesús, la cruz marca la frontera de una situación a otra: "Si alguno quiere venir en pos de mí, niéguese a sí mismo, tome su cruz y sígame" (Mc 8,34). Evangelizar supone un proceso de superación de resistencias. O lo que es lo mismo, supone echar demonios (Mc 1,39).

7. At the end, the conversion to the Gospel is a radical change: it is necessary to be born again, says Jesus to Nicodemus (Jn 3, 7). This radical change is also expressed in other ways, like a step from the thirst to the water of life (Jn 4), from blindness to the light (Jn 9), from death to life (Jn 11).

8. The conversion means to calm the thirst of God that the man has: “God, you my God, I am looking for you, my soul has thirst of you” (Ps 63), “listen, all of you who are thirsty, come to the water!” (Is 55, 1). It is the call that Jesus makes to the Samaritan woman: “If you only knew the Gift of God! If you knew who is the one that asks you for a drink, you yourself would have asked me and I would have given you living water”, “for the water that I shall give will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn 4, 10 – 14). The conversion is a step from the thirst to the water of life.

9. The conversion means to see the light of God: “The Lord is my light and my salvation” (Ps 27). At the end, every one of us has born blind. Our original blindness must be treated washing ourselves in the pool of the Messenger, it is to say, in the Christian community: “he made paste with spittle and clay and rubbed it on the eyes of the blind man. Then he said, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam” (This name means sent.) So he went and washed and came back able to see.” (Jn 9, 6 – 7). The conversion is a step from blindness to the light.

10. The conversion means to live, to overcome death, to resurrect. The passages of the Samaritan woman and of the born blind, the passage of Lazarus belong to the old catechumenal liturgy and, in it, to that of  the third, forth and fifth Eastern Sundays. The man who is born to the faith is, like Lazarus, a man to whom Jesus makes to get out of the tomb and returns to life: “Lazarus, come out” (Jn 11, 43). The conversion is a step from death to life.

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