Conversion is Contagious

Friday, January 5, 2024

Memorial of Saint John Neumann, bishop
In the Dioceses of the United States

Readings for Today


Jesus decided to go to Galilee, and he found Philip. And Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” John 1:43–45

Recall that in the previous passage of John’s Gospel, Andrew had gone to his brother Peter to tell him that he had found the Messiah. As a result, Peter went to see Jesus and also became His disciple. We have a similar story in today’s Gospel passage that happens shortly after the story in John’s Gospel. After Jesus called Philip to be a disciple, Philip immediately went to find his brother, Nathanael, to tell him the good news. As a result, once Nathanael has a brief encounter with Jesus, Nathanael converts, saying, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

In a sense, we can say that conversion is contagious. Once God calls a good and humble soul to follow Him and that soul responds, that person is almost always compelled to share their conversion with others whom they love. And when they share the conversion of their heart with another, their loved one will often become intrigued themselves, possibly even converting.

Conversion is indeed contagious! This is because when we come to know God, fall in love with Him and choose to follow Him, the joy and conviction of our conversion of heart are things we naturally want to share with others. We want others to experience the spiritual peace and joy we have found by discovering Christ with us.

So this begs the question: Has your love of God affected others in your life? If the answer is “Yes,” then this is something to be grateful for. But if the answer is “No,” then perhaps it’s worth pondering why not. Though it may not at all be your fault, it’s good to examine whether you have first allowed yourself to truly experience a deep conversion to Christ and then to ponder whether you have been open to sharing your heart with others.

So begin with the first question. Have you allowed yourself to truly go through a conversion to Christ? A conversion will take on varying degrees. At first, a conversion changes the direction of our lives by opening our eyes to see what truly matters in life. We discover the glory of God and the fulfillment that comes from embracing His will. When this happens, the initially converted soul will often begin to turn from all serious sin, to pray, to read the Scriptures, and to manifest these changes to others.

But conversions are not only a one-time event. Saint John of the Cross, for example, goes to much length to explain that as a person advances in the life of holiness, there will be a time when they must go through a whole new conversion. Their following of Christ will draw them to another and more profound change in life. Don’t be content with only an initial conversion. Seek also the ongoing process of change that is required by a commitment to follow Christ.

As for the second question, whether or not your own conversion has inspired those you love to follow Christ, simply pray that God uses you as He wills. Be open to Him, do not be afraid to share your heart, and work to allow the joy of following Christ to radiate from your own life. If others are open, then God will touch them through you.

Reflect, today, upon these two fundamental questions of the spiritual life and recommit yourself to a lifelong process of change, as well as an openness to allowing God to touch others through you. In the end, these two things are all that really matter in life and for eternity.

Lord of all holiness, please continuously draw me closer to You. Help me to convert in my life, to turn from all sin and to choose to follow You with all my heart. Help me, also, to be open in my faith journey so that others will see all that You are doing in me and receive Your invitation, through me, to follow You. Jesus, I trust in You.

Saint of the Day:
Saint John Neumann, Bishop

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Featured image above: A print from the Phillip Medhurst Collection, via Wikimedia Commons