Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Third Sunday after Pentecost (Within the Octave of the Sacred Heart)—13 June A.D. 2010

“There will be joy among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”[1]

[ 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.”[2]

    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.[3]  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 Justice.

    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.[4]

“The God of all grace,
who has called us to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus,
will Himself,
after we have suffered a little while,
perfect, strengthen, and establish us.

To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.





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