Mk 16:15-18 Conversion and the Cross
There are many wonders in the world – seven I believe. But none of them compares to the conversion of St. Paul who was ruthless and cold-blooded in his handling of Christians. The one who was persecuting us is now standing beside us! This was the herald’s message from the King of Kings! Could it be? Could it possibly be true? What drives a man to change his life and turn it upside down, which in Christ becomes right side up? What drives a man to change his life - lose his life, lose his friends and family and be received with shouts of doubts from those you have joined? The only possible answer can be truth and grace.
In these current days we have seen miracles take place, especially in England. The headlines have been bold and clear: Anglicans Join Catholic Branch, Seven Anglican Priests and 300 parishioners join Catholic Church, History overturned as Anglican Bishops are ordained as Catholics, etc… Why is this so big? For historical reasons! The Church of England and the nation itself, which endorsed Protestantism and spread it like butter throughout its vast Empire, and persecuted Catholics beyond the realm of horror, is today experiencing a meltdown. Do we need to remind anyone that once upon a time any Catholic priest caught in England was sentenced to death in the most gruesome of ways: hung, drawn and quartered! Although there is now a 5:1 ratio of Anglicans to Catholics, today there are more English Catholics who attend Mass on Sunday than Anglicans. England and its home grown church is experiencing, like St. Paul, a seismic shift of counter-reformation magnitude! May the Lord of peace and unity help the Holy Father see it through to the end.
I will not even begin to imagine why all of this is happening. We will leave this to the Lord to unveil the mystery of why now, why there, why this revolution! Is there anything to boast about? I thoroughly concur with the comments from a Catholic Bishop in England that now is not the time to sound triumphant, but rather it is a good time to do penance. After all, it was scandal that caused the wound to occur in the first place and it will be holiness – penance - that will bring the festering wound to heal. There will be many crosses to carry in the next few years, but conversion and cross remain mysteriously entwined. Salvation comes from the Cross and we must carry it throughout the world. This is our Good News.
Let us ask the Lord to give us the strength and courage to boldly proclaim the Good News to our co-workers, friends and family members that Jesus Christ is capable of revolutionizing our lives by bringing to us the peace and unity we all desire. May the God of love remind us of the greatest and most profound commandment he gave to all his followers: Love one another as I have loved you. This alone is capable of converting the hardest of hearts, the strongest of head-strong individuals, the most militant atheists, and the most love deficient of all! This way alone there will be no turning back.