Was the Walk a Conversion Experience?

OLL St. 1-1-1Coming to the Eighth and Final Station on the Good Friday Ecumenical Prayer Walk, I am reminded of T. S. Eliot’s words, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” We are back at Our Lady of Lourdes Church. We have seen the slain Jesus and the resurrected Christ as we made our pilgrimage, as we explored where Jesus is to be found today.

The choices are ours and many choices we have indeed. Have we walked in vain? A few weeks later have we become the change we prayed for or are we still complicit in the suffering of those on the margins?

On the Third Sunday of Easter, we read the account in acts regarding Paul’s conversion experience on the road to Damascus. After a period of time Paul emerged from his experience of the slain Jesus and the risen Christ a new person. Having breathed fire against the followers of the Way, he now breathes the power of the Spirit of the Risen Christ. Paul was changed by his experience of Christ on the road to Damascus. Has our experience on the streets of Melbourne changed us into fire-breathing zealots for Christ and all his people, especially the poor and marginalized? If so, we will have awakened into a deeper relationship with the cosmic Risen Christ. If not, we will have walked and prayed in vain.

Paul did not earn or merit his new relationship with Christ. It was pure gift. All we have to do is “ask and we shall receive.” Are we eager to make this request or are we afraid? Jesus’ words to the disciples are his words to us today, “Be not afraid. I am with you all days.”

Jesus has redeemed us from our self-centered ways. The first prayer at OLL reminds us that the Risen Christ holds us in his hands in the power of the Spirit.

Lord Jesus, we are searching for you.  Where are you suffering today?

All:  I am suffering all around you, every day.  But I have redeemed you, I have called you my own, I hold you in the palm of my hand.

The final prayer is our challenge:

Most loving God,

 it was not the lowly who crucified Jesus, but the powerful.

 It was not Roman or Jew, Christian or Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist,

red, yellow, black, brown, or white.

 – but any and all of these who wield power without love.

It is any and all of us who exercise power without humility.

It is any and all of us who remain indifferent to the lives of those less fortunate.  It is any and all of us who support the structures and systems

that continue to oppress and violate the dignity of your people.

Dear Jesus,

help us to move away from the lure of power

and our attachment to material goods and our own self-interests.

Help us trust in you

 as we face the discomfort of reaching out to those in need

and simplifying our lives.

Teach us how to express non-violently our righteous anger toward injustice.  Empower us to shed tears shamelessly for the broken and afflicted. 

Help us delight in our foolishness as we try to do in your name

what others think cannot be done.

Teach us that

“we are truly powerful [only] when love and peace are our weapons.”

And so together we pray,

All:  Lord Jesus, slain and resurrected, hear our prayer for the poor.




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