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The Celebration of the Christian Mystery

359

III.

T

he

C

onversion of

the

B

aptized

1427

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.”

16

In the

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

17

that one renounces evil and gains salvation, that

is, the forgiveness of all sins and the gift of new life.

1428

Christ’s call to conversion continues to resound in the lives

of Christians. This

second conversion

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.”

18

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

first.

19

1429

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.

20

The second conversion also

has a

communitarian

dimension, as is clear in the Lord’s call to a

whole Church: “Repent!”

21

St. Ambrose says of the two conversions that, in the Church,

“there are water and tears: the water of Baptism and the tears

of repentance.”

22

IV.

I

nterior

P

enance

1430

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

conversion of

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.

23

16

Mk

1:15.

17 Cf.

Acts

2:38.

18

LG

8 § 3.

19

Ps

51:17; cf.

Jn

6:44; 12:32;

1 Jn

4:10.

20 Cf.

Lk

22:61;

Jn

21:15-17.

21

Rev

2:5, 16.

22 St. Ambrose,

ep.

41, 12: PL 16, 1116.

23 Cf.

Joel

2:12-13;

Isa

1:16-17;

Mt

6:1-6; 16-18.

541

1226

1036

853

1996

1098