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Sunday, March 10, 2013 – The Ministry of Reconciliation Reflection by Robert Mace


We read in Morneau's Not by Bread Alone that “Sin causes disorder… for St. Paul and all of us, reconciliation and conversion are lifelong processes… in all of our lives there will always be some disorders…”

One of my personal disciplines during Lent is to take a hard look at myself, which is never an easy thing to do; at least not for me.  But since, if I am willing to say “yes” to Christ's call to “heal relationships” and to “deal with the disorders” of my existence, an important part of the pilgrimage toward reconciliation requires that I identify those disorders and acknowledge my sins and imbalance before God.  This is one situation in which the theory is far easier than the practice.  So, I decided to practice - to take that hard look at myself with intentional diligence.

The results of the long Lenten self-examination are in and my sin is this: I continue to attempt to control God.  My agenda pleases me more than God's and, after peeling away the thin top layer of piety, charity, mercy and compassion, I find that most of my heart beats strongly with pride, vanity, egocentricity and self-interest.  I refuse, for the most part, fully to live into the grace of that human poverty to which we are called by the Gospel, and instead insist on building my own kingdom of ME.

“Conversion” implies change, growth, turning towards truth, fidelity, devotion.  I don't fully understand conversion because I don't yet live it.  My life is overflowing with half-kept promises; a junk drawer stuffed with good intentions that I never quite bring to fulfillment.  Yet, every once in a while, I'll think of Christ crucified and something compels me to retrieve one of those empty promises from my stash and to fulfill it.  Maybe this is the very beginning of conversion.  
Our human instincts are good and holy; and I know this because, as an egocentric sinner, in spite of myself, I sometimes am moved to acts of kindness and charity; my heart impels me, once in a while to try to be compassionate, understanding, tolerant, patient.  Sometimes in that drawer, I find love, and hope, and salvation.  This is the beginning of conversion.  This is the fruit of reconciliation.  This is “Jesus' mission of redemption” in my life.  
We may not fully understand the meaning of healing and reconciliation, but we can live it.  To live it means to clean out the junk drawer once in a while; to have a rummage sale of love, of hope, of compassion.  This kind of conversion, which is God's gift in Christ, tells us to take our good intentions and empty promises and, one by one, little by little, to bring them to completion.  Not because it feels good, or because it's a rainy Saturday with nothing else to do.  Just because.  Trust in the goodness of our human instincts, in the honesty of our human brokenness and emptiness, in the holines of our human weakness and poverty, in the love of the Redeemer who continues to love us from brokenness to wholeness, from emptiness into completion.  This is reconciliation and redemption.  

How can we cooperate with God in this great mission of reconciliation, be a “co-worker” with Christ in the lead?  Perhaps by allowing our holy instincts to teach us to forgive ourselves and one another, and to love each other into hope, with as much charity, compassion, good intentions and honest promises as we can faithfully make good on.  Perhaps by “having the mind and heart of Christ” such that, in the face of human brokenness, pain, sin, disaster and loss, we can learn how to forgive and move on, to fully function again, to live again fully alive.  Christ's mission of redemption in my life involves my acknowledgement that God is in control and that my efforts to manipulate God are dishonest and, in the end, futile.  In a sense, Christ's mercy and forgiveness establish the parameters of control, the ebb and flow of what God is so graciously and freely willing to do for me, and of what I MUST do.



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