The Grace of Conversion

“The officers then went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, ‘Why did you not bring him?’ The officers answered, ‘No man ever spoke like this man!’ The Pharisees answered them, ‘Are you led astray, you also?’ ” [John 7:45-47 RSV-CE]

Road to EmmausJesus was attracting great crowds and not a few converts with his teaching and signs. This was troubling to the authorities who were concerned that their influence and credibility were being undermined by Jesus. So the Pharisees and chief priests sent officers to arrest Him. Yet when these officers returned, they were empty-handed. All they could say when questioned by the Pharisees was, “No man ever spoke like this man.”

These officers were obviously receptive to the grace of conversion that accompanied Christ’s proclamation. Anyone who has sought God with a sincere and contrite heart knows just what these officers experienced. As Saint Augustine so beautifully captured when he wrote his “Confessions” in the late 5th Century A.D., “Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” It is not surprising to hear converts and cradle-Catholics alike echo these words.

Our God created us for a purpose and until we discover and embrace that truth, we experience a restlessness, a hole in our being that can only be filled by the God Who created us. And more than a “what”, that Truth is a “Who” – a Person. That Person, Almighty God became man while remaining God to rescue us. What a beautiful mystery this Truth is. He speaks to us and calls us home to Him – from an infinite and life-giving Love – as the Eternal Logos – “and the word became flesh.” [John 1:14 RSV-CE] And He established a covenant family in which we become children of God. “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” [1 John 3:1 RSV-CE]

This covenant family of God is the Catholic Church, “which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.” [1 Timothy 3:15 RSV-CE]

One task of the Christian is to take this good news into the public square, as well as in the family, and to proclaim to all those who seek this family of God, we say, “Welcome home…. come and see.”

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About the Author

Deacon Michael Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life™. A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.

He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center’s Business Conference; and Chaplain of the St. Peter Chanel Faith at Work Business Association and co-founder and Chaplain of the Marriages Are Covenants Ministry, both of which serve as models for similar parish-based ministries.

He and his wife have two adult children, one daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.

NB: The views I express on this site are my own. I am not an official spokesman for either my parish or diocese.

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