19 August, Thursday — True conversion

Aug 19 – Memorial for St. John Eudes, priest, religious founder

John Eudes (1601-1680) established seminaries, and founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary Eudists to promote virtuous secular parochial clergy not bound by vows, but dedicated to improving the clergy through seminaries and missions. He also founded the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity who worked for the welfare of penitent women. He was the author of the liturgical devotion of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

  • Patron Saint Index

Jgs 11:29-39
Mt 22:1-14

Come to the wedding.”

Several years ago, I began a journey to change a certain part of myself. It had become apparent to me that I needed to do something about the way I habitually spoke to people. There was a tactlessness in my utterances that sometimes made people around me uncomfortable. One brave and well-meaning friend even told me that she felt hurt by my constant sarcasm. Eventually I became bothered enough to make the decision to take some concrete action that will improve my interactions with others. I started to make mental notes of the things I said in the course of a day. I would then review them by imagining myself as the audience of those words. It was a mentally exhausting exercise, and I was disheartened to see that a significant portion of my remarks and responses to others were overly blunt and reflected a misguided sense of superiority. In the light of this realisation, I made a conscious effort to show more kindness and humility in my speech. That was easier said than done, and I struggled for a long time before I was satisfied that I had formed a new habit.

The parable in today’s gospel is commonly understood as an allegory of salvation history. The king is God, inviting guests to His son’s wedding feast. The first call went out to the Jews, who were not receptive to the message. The second round of invitations were offered to everyone else, i.e. the Gentiles. Attendance at the banquet comes with a condition, however, and a man is found by the king to be without a wedding garment and gets thrown out of the wedding hall. What does the wedding garment represent? In the context of salvation, it could represent the repentance that one needs to have for a total conversion of heart towards Christ.  

True repentance requires a transformation of self. As the saying goes, a leopard never changes its spots, but I do not believe that it is impossible to change oneself for the better. It can happen if one is willing to put in the effort. However, people rarely find the motivation and will to effect that extent of change, and the process is not easy and often painful.

You may have heard the following question being asked by fellow Catholics, or by yourself – Why bother going for confession when we just end up confessing the same sins over and over again? But confession is not a cure for the ailment that is sin. Feeling sorry for committing sin does not prevent one from sinning again. Instead of complaining that confession does nothing to reduce our sinfulness, we could perhaps pay attention to those recurring sins and take the recurrence as a clear sign that those are the areas to work on for a true conversion.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)

Prayer: We pray for discernment of the sinful parts of ourselves, and for the strength of will to make the changes that will lead to a transformation of self.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for Jesus for His assurances that He will be with us through our struggles.

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