He also proposes two simple steps to start moving forward.
Pope Francis took up John the Baptist’s mission in his reflection before the midday Angelus on December 6, giving some practical tips to help us reach true conversion.
What does the word ‘conversion’ mean? In the Bible it means, first and foremost, to change direction and orientation; and thus also to change one’s way of thinking. In the moral and spiritual life, to convert means to turn oneself from evil to good, from sin to love of God.
The Holy Father noted the two aspects that make up a real conversion: first is detachment from sin and worldliness and second is searching for God and his kingdom.
To bring about this break from sin, the pope said, we have to “reject everything that is connected to sin.”
In this regard, he warned against “a worldly mentality, excessive esteem for comforts, excessive esteem for pleasure, for well-being, for wealth.”
But “abandoning comforts” is not an end in itself: “a Christian is not a ‘fakir.'”
It’s a means of attaining “communion with God, friendship with God.”
“But this is not easy, because there are many ties that bind us closely to sin; it is not easy,” the pope said.
“Temptation always pulls down, pulls down,” he said, and listed five “ties” that keep us “close to sin”: inconstancy, discouragement, malice, unwholesome environments, bad examples.
At times it seems too hard, he acknowledged, and discouragement comes. “And this is bad,” he said.
Because “it is possible. It is possible. When you have this discouraging thought, do not remain there, because this is quicksand. It is quicksand: the quicksand of a mediocre existence. This is mediocrity.”
So what to do? Step two
What can we do in these cases, when one would like to go but feels he or she cannot do it? First of all, remind ourselves that conversion is a grace: no one can convert by his or own strength. It is a grace that the Lord gives you, and thus we need to forcefully ask God for it. To ask God to convert us to the degree in which we open ourselves up to the beauty, the goodness, the tenderness of God. Think about God’s tenderness. God is not a bad father, an unkind father, no. He is tender. He loves us so much, like the Good Shepherd, who searches for the last member of his flock. It is love, and this is conversion: a grace of God. You begin to walk, because it is he who moves you to walk, and you will see how he will arrive. Pray, walk, and you will always take a step forward.