Conversion: Following the Call of Christ

C O N V E R S I O N

Following the Call of Christ

What makes one’s life successful? Money? Power? Honour? Pleasure?

Most philosophies of the well-lived life are based on having something.

But the Christian perspective is that it is better to be something. The goal of the Christian life is to grow in loving relationship to Christ, becoming more like him through the immersion of our entire selves into his Church, Christ’s Body.

But our transformation in Christ will not occur until we recognise him as our ultimate concern.

In Conversion: Following the Call of Christ, explore the stories of six great biblical figures with Bishop Barron, using their examples to grow closer to Christ.

C O N V E R S I O N

Seven Tuesday Evenings from January 8th, 2019.  If you have missed this introductory session, don’t worry. Come along on the 15th anyway. 

Refreshments from 7:45 pm Begins promptly at 8 pm

Following the Call of Christ

In this film and study program, Bishop Robert Barron illuminates six biblical stories of conversion, demonstrating how six ordinary people, just like you, were met by Jesus where they were and called to a better life through him.

The common theme in each story is the turning of all one’s attention and energy toward an ever deeper, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “Jesus Christ calls us in thousands of different ways to follow Him, as we strive on the path for spiritual excellence”.

Tuesdays
January 8th, 2019 Conversion Baptism is our first and fundamental conversion. Read the Catechism 1263 – 1266. How does Baptism change us?
January 15th Bartimaeus Mark 10:46-52
January 29th The Rich Young Man Matthew 19:16-30
February 5th Matthew Among the early followers and apostles of Jesus, Matthew is mentioned in Matthew 9:9 and Matthew 10:3 as a publican who, while sitting at the “receipt of custom” in Capernaum, was called to follow Jesus.
February 12th Jonah Was Jonah really swallowed by a whale?
February 19th The Woman at the Well John 4: 1-42
February 26th The Journey of the Maji T.S Eliot writes about this journey, a journey from warmth and comfort to Bethlehem. Where are we on the journey?

One Reply to “Conversion: Following the Call of Christ”

  1. I thought that parishioners might find the below reflection on conversion of interest. Plus it’s rather apt given today’s Feast Day of St Paul. It’s a bit long, but worth a read. In conclusion it would appear clear by the writer (Most Rev William Goh) that we need to nurture our young people to find their first love again in Jesus and engage in prayer, for conversion or calling rather than seeing it as a recruitment drive.

    The Conversion of Paul the Apostle VOCATIONS – A CRISIS?

    SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Acts 22:3-16 or Acts 9:1-22; Ps 117:1-2; Mark 16:15-18 ]

    Today we often hear that there is a priestly and religious vocations crisis. This appears to be true in Singapore and in many parts of the world, especially the first world countries.

    The Church is indeed in need of more priests. In Singapore, we have 155 priests, but only about 100 are active in serving the 383,000 Catholics. As a result, the Church has also become inward-looking as the clergy have no more energy and resources left to focus on the need for evangelization and mission.

    Just trying to sustain the spiritual needs of our Catholics is trying enough, not to speak of giving them formation in the faith. But what is the real crisis?

    It is not the lack of priestly and religious vocations. It is the lack of prayers! In the gospel, Jesus told the disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Mt 10:37f)

    The Lord never asked us to promote priestly and religious vocations as if it is a recruitment drive for more candidates to the seminary and religious life.

    What is required is prayer.

    In other words, we must first help our young people to come into contact with the Lord, fall in love with Him, develop an intense and intimate relationship with Him to the extent that they want to give their lives to Him, share in His mission and in His passion for the people.

    Without a personal relationship with the Lord, there is no vocation and no call. Indeed, we must never forget that priestly vocation is a calling. It is not an option in life that we choose from among the many options. When the Lord calls, we respond immediately because it is the Lord who calls. The call of the first disciples showed how they immediately left their boats and nets to follow after Jesus when they were called. (cf Mt 4:18-22)

    The letter of Hebrews says, “Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. And one does not presume to take this honour, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was.” (Heb 5:1,4) No wonder, the Church today is having all kinds of scandals because those who responded to the call of the priesthood have no calling!

    They are taking it as a “career” in life, or a lifestyle that they are comfortable with, as opposed to marriage or singlehood. So the real crisis is not the shortage of priestly and religious vocations but the CRISIS OF FAITH .

    Our churches appear to be vibrant with lots of activities. But all these activities are not signs of a living faith because they could be mere distractions to occupy peoples’ time and boredom.

    The only sign that is truly reflective of a community growing in faith is when young people who have fallen in love with Jesus desire to empty their lives in the service of the People of God and be His missionaries in the world.

    Priestly and religious vocations are the fruits of a deep prayer life, a deep relationship with God. The reality is that God is not felt in this secularized world and even by so-called believers in the Lord.

    The Christian Faith has become a religion that we subscribe to, or some philosophy of life. It is not a personal relationship with the Lord. It has been reduced to fulfillment of duties, rituals and commandments.

    In a secularized world where God is hardly mentioned in our schools, universities and in social life, God is confined to the one hour on Sundays in church. The environment is hostile and unwelcoming to the question of faith.

    Those who have religious beliefs are seen to be narrow-minded, silly, superstitious and weak. It is the in- thing today to be known as an agnostic, a free thinker or a humanist. We depend on our knowledge and strength in life. We do not need anyone else, especially someone that we cannot see or feel.

    Indeed, what our people need is a conversion experience for them to fall in love with Jesus.

    This was the case of St Paul in today’s feast of his conversion. His vocation did not come from intellectual study of Jesus or the Christian Faith. It was his radical encounter with the Lord on his way to Damascus to arrest the Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem to be put in prison.

    He was persecuting the Christians even to death. He did not know Jesus and he did not believe in Him until the Lord appeared to Him in a flash of light and spoke to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” It was then that he knew the Lord was His saviour.

    From that moment, his life was totally transformed. This explains why St Paul throughout his ministry would recall his conversion experience story to show his conviction of how the Lord had called him into the ministry.

    What does a conversion experience story entail?

    FIRSTLY, It is a personal encounter with the Lord. The apostles also had a similar conversion experience when they witnessed the transfiguration of our Lord.

    St Peter recounted this when he wrote, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.” (2 Pt 1:16-18)

    SECONDLY , it is the experience of forgiveness of our sins. In spite of the fact that Saul was a persecutor, the Lord forgave him and appointed him as an apostle to the gentiles. He sent Ananias to lay hands on Saul to restore his sight. “But Ananias replied, ‘Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem.’” Nevertheless, Ananias went “and laying his hands on him, he said, ‘Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized.” St Paul would narrate later how the Lord was so merciful to him. “I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. ” (1 Tim 1:12-16) St Peter too experienced the Lord’s forgiveness for his arrogance when He performed the miracle of fish. “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ (Lk 5:8)

    THIRDLY , it is the experience of being sent. The Lord assured Ananias His plan for Saul. “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.” Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” (Lk 5:10) After having encountered the Lord, we want to announce to the whole world that Christ is our Lord and Saviour. It is a natural outcome of having encountered the Risen Lord. Like Simon who was given a new name, Peter; and Saul a new name, Paul, those who encounter Him are given a new mission.

    When we fall in love with Jesus, we cannot stop proclaiming Him. This is what it means when the Lord said, “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved.” Filled with His Holy Spirit like Paul, we too will announce the Good News to our fellowmen.

    We read that “he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.” So when we celebrate the Conversion of St Paul, LET US PRAY FOR OUR OWN CONVERSION OF HEART .

    Many of us are nominal Catholics. Many of our parents are not showing the example of faith to their children.

    We are lacking in faith and that is why our children lose their faith completely when they grow up in a secular world.

    What we need is to create an ambience where our children can encounter Jesus in their lives by belonging to a community anointed with the Holy Spirit and a COMMUNITY that GIVES THEM SUPPORT IN LOVE AND FAITH. Only when we become a PRAYING COMMUNITY and a COMMUNITY THAT CELEBRATES the EUCHARIST AND CONTEMPLATE ON THE WORD OF GOD , WILL THERE BE VOCATIONS FOR THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD.

    Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved

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