In his gospel Mark describes the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.. He quotes Jesus “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is close at hand.  Repent and believe the gospel.”  The term “repent” literally means “a change of mind.”  It is a call to conversion.  Conversion can be sudden and dramatic; like that of St. Paul on the road to Damascus.  There is also what might be called  “on-going conversion.”   Conversion always has a double aspect: turning away from sin and selfishness and turning to the Lord.

We all need to be converted in that latter sense.  The challenge of conversion is a constant feature of our lives.  Every age has its own difficulties and dangers as well as its own joys. Whatever our stage in life we are challenged to resist temptation, to turn from sin and self centeredness and to turn more fully to the Lord.  Christian conversion is the total – if never complete – surrender to the person of God revealed in Jesus Christ.  Conversion is not simply    a once and for all accomplishment. Rather it sets a Christian on a path of on-going, continual, lifelong effort.  That on-going conversion is like breathing.  You stop it at peril to your life.

That’s the difficult thing about conversion.  We would all like very much to undergo a deep dramatic conversion and afterwards no longer have to struggle in our trying to follow Christ.   It doesn’t work that way. In that sense it is analogous to dieting.  We all know what happens if a crash diet is not followed up by on-going better eating habits.

The men and women of AA showed great insight when early in their history they developed the tradition of referring to themselves not as “former alcoholics”  or “recovered alcoholics” but as “recovering alcoholics.”  The recognized the crisis as on-going.  The danger of relapse is always there.  That idea has a more general application.  It is true for all of us.   In this life we are never finished and safe in the sense there is nothing more to do, no more effort needed.

Each day we face the same choice God gave the Israelites in the wilderness.  “I have set before you this day …. Life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life.” (Deut. 30: 15-19)  Our daily choices are the dynamic of on-going conversion.  Life in Christ which is a gift must be won again and again by fidelity.  That life gradually becomes deeper and richer as we choose again and again to turn from sin and to turn to the Lord. .