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Friday, September 21, 2012
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
― C.S. Lewis
I love this quote by C.S. Lewis and I think it goes nicely with today's scripture, which is one of my favorite gospel readings, Matthew 9:9-13.
This story is when Jesus encounters Matthew, a tax collector, and says "Follow me". The Pharisee's question his disciples why Jesus would hang out with "sinners and tax collectors". Jesus knows what they are saying and states "those who are well don't need a physician but those who are sick do". Then he says the quote that brings me the greatest comfort..."I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."
I have met people who feel they cannot be forgiven because of past wrongs. But throughout the New Testament Jesus tells how God is love. And that the Son of Man will be sacrificed for our sins. My dearest friend Joanne, who is my God Mother and spiritual leader, once told me that if we doubt God forgives us then Jesus died on the cross in vain. Powerful words that really made me think.
Believe me; I had a pretty sinful life prior to my conversion four years ago. I knew of God but farther than that I didn't give Him much thought. After an awesome spiritual experience in Rome, at St. Peter's Basilica (so appropriate for me!), I knew God spoke directly to me. And at that moment I wanted to turn my life over to Him. Now the guilt and shame of my past came flooding in. Back in the states, I spoke to the priest, Father John, at the only Catholic Church in my small home town. He was so kind and accepted me with open arms and told me God has forgiven me. Then he gave me some scriptures to look up and read. Truly they all spoke to me however one stood out. I love the story about Jesus and the woman brought before him for adultery. He tells her, "Your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more." This after her accusers put down their rocks because they, too, were not without sin. To me that simple statement, "go and sin no more", made it perfectly clear.
We are forgiven for are past, now go forward and try to sin no more. I say try because we are human after all. That is all God asks of us; is to try to do our best. That doesn't mean we can commit a sin intentionally then ask for forgiveness. But it does mean when we make a slip, and usually I know right away when I do, ask His forgiveness. Then go to Reconciliation. This is a wonderful resource we Catholic's have and should use constantly. Shame and guilt weigh us down, to share it and bring it into light diminishes the hold it has on us. It is truly freeing and a gift.
God loves us. He is our physician. He heals us because He loves us. So simple and yet so comforting.