The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
Jesus calls to conversion. This call is an essential part of the
proclamation of the kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the king-
dom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Church’s preaching this call is addressed first to those who do not
yet knowChrist and his Gospel. Also, Baptism is the principal place
for the first and fundamental conversion. It is by faith in the Gospel
and by Baptism
that one renounces evil and gains salvation, that
is, the forgiveness of all sins and the gift of new life.
Christ’s call to conversion continues to resound in the lives
of Christians. This
is an uninterrupted task for the
whole Church who, “clasping sinners to her bosom, [is] at once holy
and always in need of purification, [and] follows constantly the path
of penance and renewal.”
This endeavor of conversion is not just a
human work. It is the movement of a “contrite heart,” drawn and
moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of Godwho loved us
St. Peter’s conversion after he had denied his master three
times bears witness to this. Jesus’ look of infinite mercy drew tears
of repentance from Peter and, after the Lord’s resurrection, a
threefold affirmation of love for him.
The second conversion also
dimension, as is clear in the Lord’s call to a
whole Church: “Repent!”
St. Ambrose says of the two conversions that, in the Church,
“there are water and tears: the water of Baptism and the tears
Jesus’ call to conversion and penance, like that of the
prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, “sack-
cloth and ashes,” fasting and mortification, but at the
the heart, interior conversion.
Without this, such penances remain
sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in
visible signs, gestures and works of penance.
8 § 3.
22 St. Ambrose,
41, 12: PL 16, 1116.