I can still remember the last time I grew vertically. I’ve grown a lot horizontally since then, sometimes in and sometimes out, but the last time I grew in height was almost 10 years ago. I remember that I had grown because I was surprised. I came home from college for a break and before I even said hello to my parents or was tackled by my dog, I noticed. I stepped in our side door, looked at our fridge and thought- “I’m not that tall, am I?” I was so surprised that I had to ask whether my parents had gotten a new refrigerator. I quickly realized that it was not our fridge, but me who had changed.
Change is part of all human life. Sometimes we change without even being aware of it, but we all experience change. Sometimes it is physical, other times mental, emotional and yes, spiritual. But not all change is good. St. Paul concerns himself with change, and today he tells us about two types of change: to be conformed to the world or to be transformed by the renewal of our mind.
Conformity to the world can be gradual or sudden, partial or total. Conformity of the world happens when we choose to do things apart from or against Christ and His Church. The spirit of the world tells us to make ourselves the ultimate and final judge of good and evil- just as Satan told Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. When Christ transforms us by the renewal of our minds, we choose all things by His judgment. The Spirit of Christ is one of obedience, following Scripture and the Church’s teaching.
St. Paul’s words mean that there is a right way and a wrong way to every part of human life. Even though we have been baptized, confirmed, and have received the Eucharist, we may not be right. We are Catholics, yes, but we can be bad Catholics. There is a good and right Catholic way to do all things: business, dating, fishing, music, even politics in any party, every human activity can be done in a good and right Catholic way. We believe that Jesus Christ is Lord of all under Heaven and on Earth, so to believe in Him is to allow Him to lay claim to everything we do.
Look at St. Peter in today’s Gospel. Just last week, in verse 16, he confesses that Jesus is the Christ, just last week, in verse 18 and 19 Jesus makes him the first Pope, and now, in verse 22, Peter tries to correct Jesus. “I believe that you are Lord, but I think you’ve got the wrong idea!” He is judging Jesus according to the spirit of this world and so Peter receives the harsh rebuke: “Get behind me Satan…you are thinking not as God does but as humans beings do.” Peter allowed himself to be conformed by this age, by the spirit of the world. How much more must we be on guard?
It is easy to go through life with gradual change that we never notice. St. Paul begs us, by the mercy of God, that we would live attentive, deliberate Catholic lives. Let us never be caught unawares in our sin, in our conformity to the spirit of the world. Let us make sure that every action, every choice, and every aspect of our life strives for the Spirit of Christ. Let us never forget that Christ desires to transform us; especially through the Sacraments of Confession and Mass. So let us turn to the Lord with confidence.