Cantalamessa on Joy of Conversion

Father Raniero Cantalamessa talks about Conversion:

Who is he?  In 1980, Cantalamessa was appointed the Preacher to the Papal Household by Pope John Paul II. He has remained in this position under the pontificate of Pope Francis. In this capacity, he provides meditations to the Pope and other high-ranking officials and is “the only person allowed to preach to the Pope.” Cantalamessa, a frequent speaker, is a member of the Catholic Delegation for the Dialogue with the Pentecostal Churches.

What he says:  

The gospel has spoken about conversion as a decision, and apostolic teaching has spoken about conversion as an awakening.  But there is still one important thing to be said:  The result of conversion is joy!   Conversion is beautiful; it is the greatest joy a man can experience.  The man who found a treasure hidden in his field went ‘in his joy’ (Matthew 13:44) to sell everything he had; on the other hand, the rich young man who lacked the courage to make the leap ‘went away sorrowful’ (Matthew 19:22).

To convert is to be with the Bridegroom, so how can we be sad while the Bridegroom is present?

But there’s something even more extraordinary in conversion than a person’s own joy: the joy of God! ‘There will be…joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.

Jesus tells us:  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.  (Luke 15:4-7)

This is a mystery:  I can make God happy or diminish his happiness.  God is not completely happy while there is still anyone outside the door who refuses to enter, be it the prodigal son or the elder brother.

How can anyone resist this thought?  How can we not immediately say, “Today, this very day, I want to convert”?  Jesus, draw us to follow after you to the Father!