CONFIDENCE IN JESUS
“Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ.” These words are spoken by St. Paul in today’s second reading. What we need to remember is that Paul considered himself the worst of all sinners at the time Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. This means that no amount of personal sin on our part can or will, from His side, stop Christ from coming close to us. In fact, the more we are in sin, the closer he comes to us to free us from it. “Behold! I stand at the door and knock.”
It is the great triumph of divine mercy that someone as sinful as Paul would not resist Jesus when He came to free him. It is the great tragedy of human pride that others, sadly, are not moved even by such mercy.
Even so, we must hope and pray without ceasing for the conversion of heart of those who are as yet unresponsive to Jesus. It is Jesus’ own love, in fact, which moves us to hope and pray in this way. He wants us to have the confidence in his love that others do not yet have. Through our confident trust in his victory, the attraction of the sinful heart to Christ increases. Our confidence cannot replace the will of the unrepentant to repent, but it can make stronger the appeal of Christ’s love. Think of the tears of St. Monica which eventually wore down the stubbornness – and it was truly a great stubbornness of a great mind – of her son Augustine.
The hardness of the human will in resisting the mercy of Jesus is the only “line in the sand” which Jesus will not trespass because He takes our freedom more seriously than we do ourselves. All the other things St. Paul mentions in the second reading – trouble, worry, persecution, hunger, nakedness, death, life, angels, etc. – are no obstacle to the love of Christ.
What can help someone find the will to rub out that line in the sand is the warmth of our love, the sincerity of our entreaty, the light of our example, the persevering commitment of our prayer. If we can stir the curiosity of the unrepentant by the joy of our Christian lives; if we can move their hearts by the music of our virtuous ways: then we can have confident hope in Christ that the prodigal son or, indeed, the elder brother outside the front door of the Father’s house, will eventually relent and come in.
In the confident witness of our Christian lives, it is the power of Christ’s love which attracts others to Him. The conversion of the world is, in this sense, in our hands.