'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' " Luke 15:31-32
In the story of the prodigal son, we have two sons who make drastically different life decisions. One stays and works on his father’s farm, while the other takes his inheritance and goes away from his father. After ‘experiencing’ the world and finding it wanting, he returns to his father, not expecting forgiveness, but merely the safety of the farm and employment.
This is a story of our relationship with God. In the Garden, Adam and Eve took their inheritance early by eating from the tree and separated themselves from God. As children of the Fall, we have all found ourselves in the stress and sin of the world. Deep within there is a longing to come back into our Father’s protection. Just like the prodigal son, when we return to God, we find not only peace in our heart, but forgiveness from our sins.
Conversion is a turning toward God. In the Christian faith, it is acknowledging Christ as Lord and Savior and following the will of the Father through the aid of the Holy Spirit. Cradle Catholics can make the mistake of thinking this is an experience for those who have never been in the Church, or have never believed in God.
In fact, each one of us who believe and follow Christ must share in this experience. At some point in our lives we make a decision to turn towards God with our whole heart, mind, and soul. Whether this looks like a dramatic moment in time, or a slower, less poignant moment, the conversion experience has the same power.
When we give our lives to Christ, we share in His resurrection power. We who were dead in sin become alive again in Christ. Through the power of Christ, death is conquered in our lives and we become a new creation (2 Cor 5:17).
Believers focus on strengthening their relationship with God during Lent. This may mean repentance from sins that are keeping them from a full life with God. This repentance, or turning away from sin and back towards God are smaller conversion experiences. Even after our initial conversion experience, there are times that we lose focus and become once again consumed by the world. During these times it is important to not only look upon the cross, but also to remember the power of the Resurrection. Turn once again towards God and reclaim yourself for your God this Lent.
“I am the resurrection and the life.” John 11:25
**This article was written for Today's Disciple (a magazine published by my parent's church in Orlando, FL: St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church).