[ Ordinary of the Mass ]
[ English Text ]
[ Latin Text ]
[Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus]
This past Friday we celebrated the feast
of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, so this is the Sunday within the Octave of the
Sacred Heart. It is also identified as the third Sunday after Pentecost.
And on the secular calendar it is Fathers’ Day.
Today's Gospel shows us pretty
clearly that the Pharisees and Scribes—the leading people of the Jews—had
no idea of the nature of our Lord's mission on earth. Here, they are
concerned with maintaining a reputation for associating only with the “best
people,” and for avoiding those who are known to be sinners. They
can't imagine any man of good character speaking with sinners—let alone
eating with them!
Of course, for us it is easier. We have the benefit of hindsight.
We can read our Lord's words in Sacred Scripture, and see that His primary
concern here on earth was the salvation of sinners. We can look back,
and see that not only did He eat with them and talk with them—but He even
went so far as to die for them.
This attitude of our Lord ought to inspire a similar charity in ourselves.
Hopefully, we won't have to be crucified, but certainly we should be moved to
compassion for those who need our forgiveness. And certainly, we should
have a genuine zeal for the return of sinners to repentance and to the grace
of God. We should be prepared to do all that is in our power to help
them—to see the error of their ways, to confess their sins, to do penance,
and to avoid the occasion of sin in the future.
And our Lord's love for sinners should inspire a certain confidence in
us—for we too are sinners—and we don't always do exactly what we
should—and we are in need of God's mercy. Above all, we should be
moved to realize that no matter how badly we have sinned—or how often—or
how ever long we have gone without Confession—our Lord will welcome us back
as long as we are sorry for our sins. We can, as St. Peter says: “Cast
all of our anxiety upon Him, because He cares for us.”
This is one of the reasons why the Church had us celebrate the feast of the
Sacred Heart of Jesus this past Friday. Being material creatures it is
difficult for us to perceive the love a purely spiritual God. But in His
Incarnation, out Lord demonstrated His care for the human race. His
Heart was pierced with a lance after He died for us on the Cross, and “there
came forth blood and water,” symbolizing the graces of His Sacraments.
As human beings, we think of the heart as the center of love and emotion—so
the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a more tangible sign of God’s love for us.
Of course, none of this is to say that we should be unconcerned about sin.
Make no mistake! Sin is evil, it is ugly, and it is a serious affront to
God. Not only must we resolve to avoid sin in the future, but we must
make satisfaction for the sins of our past. There is more than just a
similarity of pronunciation between penance and repentance.
There is a divine justice. And even when we are sorry for our sins, and
have received forgiveness, we must still work to repair the damage we have
done—whether that damage be to the honor and glory of God, or simply to our
fellow man. That, by the way, is the reason for Purgatory: God in His
mercy enables us to expiate the punishment due to sin, even after we die.
Of course we are wiser to attend to such things here and now.
But even in this matter of satisfaction for sin, we have the help of our Lord.
He has given us the means to recover from our fall from grace. Knowing
that our contrition will rarely (if ever) be perfect, He has given us the
Sacrament of Penance -- to restore us to Sanctifying Grace, and to make our
personal satisfaction fruitful.
When we are in the state of Grace, our prayers, our fasting, and the good
works we do, have merit. They are actually worth something in the eyes
of God. This is particularly true of the penance we do out of obedience
to our confessor—for then our satisfaction is directly linked to the
Sacrament. But even the penance we perform purely voluntarily has great
merit, when we do it in God's holy Grace. And even such voluntary
penance can be undertaken with the direction of one's confessor. (A very
good idea, by the way, if the penance seems to be a bit out of the ordinary.)
We can also look upon the satisfaction we make for sin as a token of our good
faith—a sign that we mean what we say when we claim to be sorry for our
sins—and perhaps a deterrent against future sin. We might think twice
about sinning -- we might develop a greater understanding of the evil of
sin—if we associate it with some difficult penance.
And never should we forget that the good example of our penance is likely to
be helpful to others. We can contribute to the repentance of other
sinners. Not, of course, by flaunting how "good" and
"holy" we are, but by demonstrating the need to satisfy the divine
By virtue of our fallen human nature, we are all sinners. But by virtue
of our redemption by Jesus Christ on the cross, we have the means to make
satisfaction for our sins. At the end of today’s Mass we will have the
opportunity to make an Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart—to tell our
Lord of our sorrow for our sins and to promise the effort to remain aloof from
sin in the future.
To borrow the words of the prophet Isaias, “though our sins be like scarlet,
though they be like crimson,” we must never be afraid to seek God's
forgiveness ... to do penance ... to amend our lives ... to rejoin our Lord's
flock in the desert.
God of all grace,
who has called us to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus,
after we have suffered a little while,
perfect, strengthen, and establish us.
Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.