If conversion makes no improvements in a man's outward actions then I think his 'conversion' was largely imaginary. - C. S. Lewis: (1898 –1963: was a British novelist, poet, & academic)
Scripture Text: (SIR 5:1-8)
Rely not on your wealth;
say not: "I have the power."
Rely not on your strength
in following the desires of your heart.
Say not: "Who can prevail against me?"
or, "Who will subdue me for my deeds?"
for God will surely exact the punishment.
Say not: "I have sinned, yet what has befallen me?"
for the Most High bides his time.
Of forgiveness be not overconfident,
adding sin upon sin.
Say not: "Great is his mercy;
my many sins he will forgive."
For mercy and anger alike are with him;
upon the wicked alights his wrath.
Delay not your conversion to the LORD,
put it not off from day to day.
For suddenly his wrath flames forth;
at the time of vengeance you will be destroyed.
Rely not upon deceitful wealth,
for it will be no help on the day of wrath.
Today's first reading from Mass contains a list of common excuses that people use to justify their sinful behaviors or to put off change. Lest we assume that since we've already experienced conversion we're above all this, let's reflect on the ways that our old thought patterns might still be entrapping us.
The idea that "Anything's okay as long as it doesn't hurt someone," or that "It's okay to disregard an inconvenient or unpleasant law or teaching of the Church because God understands and he'll forgive me," carries with it the arrogant presumption that sins are not always sinful and that they don't always produce bad consequences. Do you rationalize away a Church teaching about faith and morals by saying that it doesn't apply to you? If so, this trap is crushing you so slowly and subtly that you don't even notice. Delaying repentance holds us back from wonderful growth and spiritual healing.
Do you procrastinate because change is uncomfortable? Do you put off whatever seems humiliating, impossible, or less beneficial than your old ways? Old behavior patterns feel like cozy blankets, raggedy and full of holes, but familiar and valuable. Even when we're aware of being smothered by them or of hurting others with them, we don't know what the new blanket would feel like, so we hang onto the old. Or we don't know how to get the new blanket, so we don't really try. The old one has ensnared us; it's smothering our souls and covering our ears so that we fail to hear the loving, beckoning call of Christ.
It's a free-will decision.