Beloved brothers and sisters,
Repentance, Return, and Restoration
On this 9/11 anniversary, Jesus speaks to us in parables in Luke 15: 1-32 about the Father of mercy who searches for the lost. One theme that runs across the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son is the display of reckless love of God for sinners. I am wary of the use of the adjective reckless to describe God’s act of love and mercy, but it is an apt description of the mercy of God which he shows by throwing caution to the wind in going out to retrieve the lost and restoring their dignity. In a song by Cory Asbury that was played by our Young Adult music group during our monthly Eucharistic Adoration this past Monday, two lines from the lyrics stood out for me: ”Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. Oh, it chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found leaves the ninety-nine.”
This Sunday’s readings highlight and celebrate the limitless mercy of God. It is clear from the Sacred Scripture that God does not want the spiritual death of any of his sons and daughters. Sin is a stiffness of the neck that insists on substituting the love for God with love for idols, that is, things that appear to the senses as good and pleasurable when, in fact, they are not. It breaks our friendship with God and His Kingdom. While we were yet in sin, cut off from God, He goes out of his way to retrieve us from the mires of sin. Before we begin our journey back to grace, before we return to our senses and return to the embrace of the Father who is always on the lookout for us, He has already set the grace of repentance into motion. It is left to us to detest sin, repent, and return home to the love and joy of the Father.
It is our choice to return to the Father, who always wills to restore us to our dignity. God is after our restoration. He wants our salvation, not our condemnation. St. Paul reminds us, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinner” (1 Tim. 1: 15) . Yes, we have all sinned. At different times, we have left the sight of God and found ourselves lost in sin. Whether we have “acted out of ignorance” or knowingly turned to sin because of the false and temporary pleasure it gives us, we fall into sin. God is not only merciful and loving, but he is patient with us. It is now on us to make the movement back home, to respond to the grace that restores us to holiness. If you identify yourself as a sinner- Paul describes himself as the foremost sinner, now is the time to rise and return to the Father of mercy. Like the prodigal son, it is time to examine our conscience, come to our senses, repent and return to the father whose reckless love is constantly displayed in the sacraments.
Our reflection on God’s unrelenting search for us and his generous and unending mercy has resulted in my decision to add to confession time here at St. Peter. I will start hearing confession on Thursday from 5 pm to 5:45 pm. Mass on Thursday begins at 6 pm flowing seamlessly into Eucharistic Adoration which wraps up at 7 pm. Examine your conscience frequently, and you probably would find a need to go to confession more often. The reckless love of the Father of mercy awaits you in the confessional.
If you check your calendar for the week, you will notice that we have exciting memorials and feasts scheduled for Monday through Saturday. Avail yourselves of these means of graces.
-Fr. Bernard, OP, a beneficiary of the Father’s mercy.