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Posts Tagged ‘Mercy’

“Blessed are the merciful…

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2016/09/23 at 12:00 AM

What is a merciful woman like? First of all, she is not like the morphine addict who slowly poisons herself, becoming completely unaware of the insidious and deadly effects of selfishness on the soul.

The merciful woman is one who is determined to help and support others in a kind and disinterested way. Recognizing that her own nature is flawed, and loving God in others requires her to begin over and over again, she prays for perseverance. Her loving heart is vigilant over the needs of others and on guard to protect those entrusted to her care as well as whomever God sends her way. She generously goes about doing good to others wherever she sees a need, be it spiritual or material, emotional or practical.

Above all, she is a forgiving person and not only disarms by her merciful ways those who have offended her, but does so in a manner that her forgiveness leads the offender to reconsider. The merciful woman knows that by nature it is easier for her to indulge her desires and plans rather than her duties which she at times looks at with anxiety and impatience. She is able to be merciful because she is very aware of this natural tendency to prefer her own plans rather than be self-giving, and thus she makes the effort to relinquish her plans and help those who have erred. In particular, she is conscious that everything she does has repercussions, and no action is without its impact on those which whom she deals.

In particular, she is not afraid to use opportunities that arise to gently correct family members and friends when they need to be alerted to the dangers of the ways and ideas that are contrary to what is true and right. Seek to understand others even when they seem to be unaccepting. By being a friend can cause other to open their hearts so be prepared to help them.

Show mercy and kindness to those who are sad, dejected, ill, or lonely. Comfort the grieving and the sorrowing. Never act indifferently to a suffering person; rather spend time with those who need physical or spiritual consolation. Never seek repayment or praise; that your are doing it for God in your neighbor is a rich enough reward.

We will only have mercy in our hearts when we offer mercy, when we forgive, our enemies from the example and with the help of Christ. Mercy is not simply a matter of giving alms to the poor, but also of being understanding of other people’s defects, overlooking them, helping them not only to cope with them but to love them despite whatever defects they may have. Mercy suffers and rejoices with others.

Your love of God can be measured by the way you treat those who need help. Follow Jesus’ example who was always motivated by mercy and always acted out of mercy. Lead others to turn to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother for solace, peace, and mercy.

“We have to toil away each day with Jesus”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2015/10/16 at 12:00 AM

 

How happy when they die must be those who have lived heroically every minute of their life! I can assure you it is so, because I have seen the joy of those who have prepared themselves for many years, with calm impatience, for this encounter. (Furrow, 893)

Our Lord has given us as a present our very lives, our senses, our faculties, and countless graces. We have no right to forget that each of us is a worker, one among many, on this plantation where He has placed us to cooperate in the task of providing food for others. This is our place, here within the boundaries of this plantation. Here is where we have to toil away each day with Jesus, helping him in his work of redemption [1].

Allow me to insist. You think your time is for yourself? Your time is for God! It may well be that, by God’s mercy, such selfish thoughts have never entered into your mind. I’m telling you these things in case you ever find your heart wavering in its faith in Christ. Should that happen, I ask you — God asks you — to be true to your commitments, to conquer your pride, to control your imagination, not to be superficial and run away, not to desert. (Friends of God, 49)

[1] cf Col 1:24

“Learn how to do good”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2015/07/31 at 12:00 AM
When you are with someone, you have to see a soul: a soul who has to be helped, who has to be understood, with whom you have to live in harmony, and who has to be saved. (The Forge, 573)

I like to repeat what the Holy Spirit tells us through the prophet Isaiah, discite benefacere, learn how to do good…

Charity towards our neighbor is an expression of our love of God. Accordingly, when we strive to grow in this virtue, we cannot fix any limits to our growth. The only possible measure for the love of God is to love without measure; on the one hand, because we will never be able to thank him enough for what he has done for us; and on the other, because this is exactly what God’s own love for us, his creatures, is like: it overflows without calculation or limit.

Mercy is more than simply being compassionate. Mercy is the overflow of charity, which brings with it also an overflow of justice. Mercy means keeping one’s heart totally alive, throbbing in a way that is both human and divine, with a love that is strong, self‑sacrificing and generous. (Friends of God, 232)

“Implore Divine Mercy”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2015/06/19 at 12:00 AM
For each one of us, as for Lazarus, it was really a veni foras – come out – which got us moving. How sad it is to see those who are still dead and do not know the power of God’s mercy! Renew your holy joy, for opposite the man who is decomposing without Christ, there is another who has risen with him. (The Forge, 476)

It is good for us to consider the wiles of these enemies of the soul: the disorder of sensuality and easy‑going superficiality, the folly of reason that rejects God, the cavalier presumption that snuffs out love for both God and creatures. All these obstacles are real enough, and they can indeed cause us a great deal of trouble. For these very reasons the liturgy invites us to implore divine mercy: “To you, o Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust, let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me” [1], as we prayed in the introit. And in the offertory we shall go back to the same idea: “Let none that wait for you be put to shame.”

Now that the time of our salvation is approaching, it is consoling to hear from the lips of St Paul that “when the goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not by the works of justice which we have done, but according to his mercy” [2].

If you leaf through the holy Scripture, you will discover constant references to the mercy of God. Mercy fills the earth [3]. It extends to all his children [4], and is “all around us” [5]. It “watches over me” [6]. It “extends to the heavens” [7] to help us, and has been continually “confirmed” [8]. God in taking care of us as a loving father looks on us in his mercy [9] — a mercy that is “tender” [10], welcome as ”rain‑clouds” [11].

The life of Jesus Christ is a summary and compendium of the story of divine mercy: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” [12]. And on another occasion our Lord said: “Be merciful, therefore, even as your Father is merciful” [13]. (Christ is passing by, 7)

[1] Ps 24:1‑2
[2] Tit 3:5
[3] Ps 32:5
[4] Sir 18:12
[5] Ps 31:10
[6] Ps 58:11
[7] Ps 33:8
[8] Ps 116:2
[9] Ps 24:7
[10] Ps 108:21
[11] Sir 35:26
[12] Matt 5:7
[13] Luke 6:36

Christ the King

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/11/28 at 12:00 AM

As we come to the end of the year, Holy Mother Church turns our minds to what are traditionally called the 4 Last Things: death, judgment, Heaven, and hell.
In particular today we are called to meditate on Jesus Christ as the Sovereign King of the Universe, the Almighty One, Whom some day we all must face as our judge.
As we consider this moment of supreme importance, it’s obviously so very important that we are well prepared for this meeting.
The fearful part of facing Christ our King is that we are all sinners. This is one of the saddest realities of humanity. All of us are marked not only by the original sin of Adam and Eve, but we have also committed countless personal sins.
While, no doubt, we have also pleased our Lord with our good and virtuous acts, most of us have committed at least some sins that merit hell.
But while the fact that we are sinners is indeed a sad reality, it is not the most fundamental human reality.
The most fundamental human reality is that we are created in God’s image and likeness, and that despite our sinfulness, God still loves us and wants to save us!
So while Jesus is a just judge, He is also our merciful Savior. And if we are truly sorry for our sins and seek forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, then His mercy is ours!
But there is one little caveat to our Lord’s mercy: If we wish to enjoy God’s mercy, then we must be merciful in turn. If we wish to be forgiven, then we must forgive. The Gospels bear this out for us.
In the 6th chapter of Matthew, just after He has taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus says to them: “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
In the 18th chapter of Matthew Jesus tells the parable of the unmerciful servant who, even though he had been forgiven his debts to his master, refused to forgive debts owed to him. Again in this passage Jesus makes it clear that our failure to forgive nullifies our Lord’s forgiveness for us.
One thing that I think is important to note about these biblical passages is that none of them puts qualifications on forgiveness. Jesus doesn’t make any exceptions to the rule of forgiving others.
He doesn’t say that if a wrong is really great, we don’t have to forgive. In fact, when St. Peter asks Jesus: “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as 7 times?” Jesus replies: “I say to you, not 7 times, but 77 times!”
And so what we can deduce from this is that there should be no limit to our forgiveness, no matter how egregious the sin committed against us.
I bring this up today because this week with Thanksgiving we are entering into the holiday season. Between now and the new year, most of us will be having special gatherings with our families and friends – some of whom we do not see any other time of the year. This can be good or bad!
As a priest who sits in a confessional a couple times a week, I know that the holiday season – as wonderful as it is – is often a time for an increase in sins against charity!
It is an interesting reality that the ones who love us the most are the ones who hurt us the most, and vice versa. It’s very easy for the hurts and wounds that we cause each other to fester into full-blown grudges that we hold onto and nurse over the years.
From my point of view as a priest, I think there is nothing sadder that meeting a person who’s held onto a grudge for years on end and has refused to forgive and be reconciled with a loved one who has hurt him.
At the same time I also know that forgiveness can be difficult. When someone hurts us, especially if the wound is deep, then we have to contend a whole host of negative emotions that can cloud and confuse rational judgment.
Moreover, one’s sense of justice – often propped up by the vices of pride and anger – can harden one’s heart and deaden one’s conscience so that we believe that we are justified in holding onto our grudge and refusing to forgive.
Yet while we may satisfy the demands of our pride and anger, no one who refuses to forgive will ever be completely happy or at peace. That lack of forgiveness chains us to the vices of pride and anger and makes us less able to love – and less loveable.
Sadly, we all know that others can hurt us in unbelievably cruel ways, and when the damage that is done is serious, it cannot be ignored. So how do we move beyond our own pain to extend true forgiveness in those really difficult and painful situations?
For us to be able to forgive, we must be able to move beyond our negative emotions and to make the act of the will to love that person – even in their unloveliness. This requires virtue, specifically the virtues of courage, meekness, charity, and magnanimity.
Thus all forgiveness must begin with humility, which is the root of all virtue. When we are tempted to refuse forgiveness, it’s often helpful to take a step back and humbly call to mind all the ways we’ve hurt others.
In our humility we should cultivate the willingness to bear wrongs patiently, accepting the pain that others cause in our lives as a means of making reparation for our own sins.
Another helpful step is to pray earnestly for the person who has hurt us – for their healing and conversion – and to offer sacrifices and do penances for their sins. It’s difficult to hold a grudge for long against someone for whom you are doing penance!
Truly, if you really want to move beyond your hurts and extend forgiveness to someone who’s hurt you, you must be willing to bear and embrace the pain they’ve caused as a means of making reparation for their sins as well as your own.
This means that you must be willing to love the person who hurt you more than you love your pride. It means that you must desire his salvation more than you desire justice for the wrong committed against you.
Brothers and sisters, all of us cause wounds in others, and all of us must endure wounds from others. Sometimes these wounds can be quite painful and seemingly unable to be healed. But with Christ, all things are possible.
In order to prepare ourselves for that supreme moment when we will have to face Him as our Judge, let us ask ourselves if there’s anyone whom we have yet to forgive. Are there any grudges we’re holding onto?
If so, make the act of will here and now to let go of it. Don’t try to ignore the pain the person has caused you. Accept the pain and offer it up in reparation for their sins and yours, and as a prayer that our Lord might heal all that needs healing within them.
• In doing so we will free ourselves from a great deal of pain and misery, and we will become more like our merciful King in whose image and likeness we have been created.

 

24 November 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

Taking Chances

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2014/10/03 at 12:00 AM

Catholic theology teaches that God consists of three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  All are co-eternal, all equal, and all distinct.  Because, in His very nature, God is perfect, the interrelationship between the Persons is also perfect, meaning that the Trinity lacks nothing and needs nothing else to enhance it in any way.

Yet, God did create the world and the human race simply because He wanted to; there was no need to do so whatsoever.  He wanted to give humans the opportunity to participate to some degree in the divine life, not become divine, which is impossible for humans, but to enjoy a union with God that will never end.

In one sense, this was a pure gift.  God needs no human person or any number of them to make Him more complete.  (If He did need humans, He would be lacking something. And, that means He would not be perfect.)  The world could vanish tomorrow, and He would be none the worse for it.

This union with God is a potential gift, not an absolute gift.  There is a price of admission.  Humans are creatures of God and must honor and obey their Creator in order to attain this eternal union.  Those who do this satisfactorily are what is often referred to as “saved,” or as saints.  Those who fail to follow God’s commands will be eternally deprived of ever sharing divine life.  That is their own choice.

Mankind is morally weak.  He likes what we call “sin.”  (Modern man has deleted the traditional list of sins (i.e. the Ten Commandments), so that for him, the only real sins are racism, sexism, environmental abuse, and being intolerant of  wrong ideas.  Virtue is not easy to attain, and we are constantly “falling off the wagon.”  To reach the eternal reward is a lifetime chore.  God knows that we are weak and too often fall back in sin.  We don’t want to, but we do.  Any sin is an offense against God who is all-holy, but some sins are worse than others, for example, murder (including abortion), adultery,  skipping Sunday Mass for insufficient or no reason, blasphemy, etc.  The only remedy for serious (i.e. mortal) sin for Catholics is to seek divine mercy through Confession/Reconciliation in the Catholic Church.  This mercy is available to every sinner regardless of the number and magnitude of his/her sins.

Divine mercy is not an abstract idea; it is very real. If you have ever committed a mortal sin and confessed it, you experienced divine mercy.  If you lived in a state of on-going serious sin for a long time, but eventually went to Confession, you, too, have experienced divine mercy.  If you have lived in a state of serious sin for a long time, and you are still alive, you are experiencing divine mercy…but for how long?   The millions of lapsed Catholics are experiencing divine mercy…but for how long?

Divine mercy has its limits.  Divine mercy to any serious sinner is a gift.  It is not required of God.  This mercy must be sought by the sinner; it is not automatic. If you insist on living a sinful lifestyle, God will not interfere; it is your choice.  If you ignore divine mercy, you will not receive it. Perhaps worst of all, divine mercy is not available after death.  Then, there will only by judgment.  There is no faith or repentance after death; no faith because you will know with certainty what you once had to accept by faith; there is no repentance because you are now existing in eternity which has no past, present, or future.  Thus, you cannot see your error and claim sorrow for sin….too late.  The die is cast!  The sinner and saint have made their eternal choices, and God ratifies THEM.  He sends no one to Hell; we send ourselves there.  The  time to seek divine mercy is now.

There is a movement developing in Catholic and Protestant circles that suggests Hell may not be eternal, that God is so good that He could not bear to leave people in Hell, and eventually everyone will get to Heaven.  By this thinking, St. Francis of Assisi and Adolph Hitler would both be in Heaven eventually.  Certainly a comforting thought for the sinner, but totally false.  Why would God demand morality in this life if it didn’t really matter if you obeyed Him or not?  Why should people strive for a virtuous life while history’s egregious villains end up in divine favor?  Besides, Christ Himself referred more to Hell than Heaven in the Gospels because He knew it was really possible to go there. And, He never implied it was a temporary place.

I have heard too many sermons in which God’s “love” is extolled beyond reason.  It is usually put forth as a romantic, sentimental, unconditional, and totally undemanding “love.”  No matter how sinful we are, the most we hear from God is, “Tsk, tsk.” But, true love, in any relationship, is a commitment to another person.  Basically, love is an act of the will.  If the Bible says anything about divine love, it says over and over that love toward God is shown only by our obedience to divine law. (“If you love me, keep  my commandments.”)

I met a man who said that he was not at all worried about sin, damnation, and Hell because he didn’t believe in them.  When I was child, I was a firm and sincere devotee of Santa Claus, but my belief did not change reality; there was no Santa Cause.  This man’s beliefs, or lack of them, will not change reality. Sin, damnation and Hell are realities, and their existence is not dependent upon his or anyone’s belief or lack of belief.  Reality is truth, and it exists outside of us; we do not decide what it is.

Divine mercy is real, and if you need it (we all do), it is available for the asking.  After we die, there will be a realization in the sinner’s mind that s/he lived the wrong life, but it will be too late to do anything about.  Lord, have mercy on us NOW.

St. Therese of Lisieux

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/10/03 at 12:00 AM

 This past week the Church celebrated the feast day of one of Her most popular saints: St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Many of us know her as the Little Flower.

 While this cloistered Carmelite lived only a short 24 years on this earth, and all of it in relative obscurity, she is perhaps one of the most well known saints of all time – and certainly one of the most important saints of modern times – and for good reason.

 In her spiritual autobiography called Story of a Soul, St. Thérèse wrote extensively on the virtue of charity and her vocation to be love in the heart of the Church.

 One of the things that the Little Flower teaches us is that the Church has a heart burning with love. This love in the heart of the Church is what moves all of her members to act.

 St. Thérèse opined that, “if love ever became extinct, apostles would not preach the Gospel and martyrs would not shed their blood.”

 And so we, who make up the Church, must keep the virtue of charity burning within us! Charity – love – must be the animating force that impels us as we seek to live out our lives as Christians.

 As St. Paul writes to St. Timothy in our 2nd reading, we must “stir into flame the gift of God,” which is not a “spirit of cowardice, but rather of power and love and self‐control.”

 As many of you know, the month of October is Respect Life month. And as in years past, an ecumenical group within our city is running a 40 Days for Life Campaign, in which people gather to pray at local abortion mills in the hopes of closing them down.

 Last week I went with many of you to the Latrobe abortion mill, and unfortunately there was a very vulgar and hate‐filled woman harassing us as we prayed.

 In those moments when we come face to face with such people, it’s very easy to develop an “us vs. them” mentality. Personally, I often feel great temptations toward anger. But anger is exactly what we need to avoid!

 As I reflect more on Pope Francis’ recent interview, I wonder if this might be part of his point. In his interview the Holy Father gave us this great image of the Church as a “field hospital.” Truly, we cannot tend to the wounds of others if we are angry or hate them.

 Without a doubt we need to work for an end to abortion and other elements of the Culture of Death like same sex unions, contraception, euthanasia, etc. But as we do, we must try to avoid the polemics that lead us to demonize our opponents.

 As we listen to the evil propaganda of the supporters of the Culture of Death or have experiences with people like the hateful woman at the abortion mill, it’s easy to think that we have nothing in common with those with whom we disagree on the issues of life.

 Yet we do have something in common; something very fundamental: we are all sinners. As your pastor, this is something I pray you never lose sight of. All of us are sinners; all of us are in need of God’s mercy.

 Therefore, we must have compassion on our enemies. If we are members of the Church, then we are the doctors and nurses in the spiritual field hospital of the Church. As the Holy Father said, we must try to meet people in their woundedness.

 My experience as a priest has shown me that those who sin by participating in any way in the Culture of Death are often the most wounded people in our society.

 If you contravene the natural ordering of the marital act through sins like same sex relations or contraception, or even more egregiously, if you participate in the sin of abortion, you are sinning in a way that goes against very fundamental aspects of our human nature. At our core, we are ordered toward procreation and life. This is how God created us – and we are fearfully and wonderful made!

 When we sin against procreation or life, we become less human!

 Yet, as awful as the wounds from these sins are, my experience as a priest as also taughtme that these wounds can be healed by God’s grace – most especially the grace wereceive through the Sacraments. So we must do all we can to help people receive grace.

 When people fall into these terrible sins, the Church must be the place they turn to forhelp. She should never be an obstacle to a sinner’s healing. So we must meet people intheir woundedness with honesty and compassion – for both are necessary for healing.

 Meeting people in their woundedness does not mean excusing their sin. Our model fordealing with our fellow sinners is Jesus and His interaction with the adulterous woman.

 Jesus was compassionate and even saved her from her persecutors, but He didn’t fail to tell her to repent. He said to her, “Woman, has no one condemned you? . . . Neither do Icondemn you. But go and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:10‐11)

 This must be the role of the Church in society – and not just the priests and bishops, butall of us! We must all reach out compassionately to those enmeshed in sin, gentlytending to their wounds with the healing balm of charity and the bandages of truth.

 At the same time, we must also be that prophetic voice in the world that fearlessly and courageously speaks the truth about the inherent dignity of man and the grave evils ofthe Culture of Death – all without demonizing those caught up in the Culture of Death.

 In short we must hate the sin with a ferocious tenacity, while loving the sinner with allthe tenderness we can muster.

 Sound difficult? It is, but if our hearts are burning with charity and our minds and willsare intent on doing the will of God, then all things are possible.

 Through the intercession of St. Thérèse and especially of Our Lady, may each of ourhearts be turned into burning furnaces of charity so that we may attend generously to our fellow sinners caught up in the evil snares of the Culture of Death.

06 October 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

Mary Magdalene

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/07/04 at 12:00 AM

 While many modern scholars point out that there is no direct evidence that the sinful woman mentioned by St. Luke in our Gospel story today is St. Mary Magdalene, Pope St. Gregory the Great did recognize her as such.

 Further interpreting today’s Gospel passage, Pope St. Gregory also taught that the 7 devils exorcized from Mary Magdalene symbolized the 7 deadly sins.
 Thus when depicted in art, St. Mary Magdalene is often shown dressed as a penitent with the alabaster jar of perfumed ointment we hear about in the Gospel today.
 While scholars debate the true character of Mary Magdalene and whether or not she was a reformed prostitute, following the lead of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Church Tradition has always cast Mary Magdalene as the ideal penitent.
 While perhaps the sinful woman in today’s Gospel is not Mary Magdalene, I have no doubt that, as a saint, Mary Magdalene wept over her sins all the same. For outside of Our Lady, we are all sinners; we have all fallen short of the glory of God.
 In fact, being moved to the profound contrition we see in the sinful woman in today’s Gospel is part of becoming a saint. The closer we grow in likeness to our Lord, the more clearly we recognize the horror of our sins and desire to repent of them.
 The saints understood very acutely that there is no such thing as a small sin, but rather that all sin is a terrible injustice against our infinitely loveable and merciful God.
 But while man’s sinfulness is a sad reality, our readings today give us some measure of hope that even the worst of sinners can be reformed and live lives that glorify our Lord.
 In our first reading today, Nathan the prophet confronts King David about his sinfulness. And David was no ordinary sinner: he was both a murderer and an adulterer!
 Yet we see in the story of David, Uriah, and Bathsheba that conversion is possible, even for the worst of sinners, and that even the worst of sinners can receive God’s mercy.
 What we learn from this story is that none of us – no matter how we’ve been blessed and favored by God – is immune to sin. David was God’s anointed. He was chosen by God to be Israel’s leader, and yet he committed two of the gravest sins man can commit!
 The prophet Nathan reminds us so very clearly of how our sins offend the Lord, especially when we consider the blessings He has bestowed upon us. Nathan lists for David all the ways God has blessed him and then asks why he done evil in His sight.
 But more importantly, this story teaches us that if we confess our sins, as did David, God forgives – even the most serious of sins like murder and adultery.
 As we know by faith, there is no sin greater than God’s mercy, and to think that your sins are beyond God’s mercy is not humility, but the very worst form of pride – a pride that, if not corrected, can lead a soul to despair in this life and damnation in the next.
 Following Pope St. Gregory’s proposition that the sinful woman in the Gospel is St. Mary Magdalene, and given what we know about David’s life after this run‐in with Nathan, our readings today also teach us that the greatest sinner can become a great saint!
 This truth is one of the very beautiful paradoxes of our faith! While we may have to suffer the natural and destructive consequences of our sinful choices, when God forgives us He holds no grudges.
 Nor does He continue to judge us according to our sins once we’ve repented, as does the Pharisee with the sinful woman in our Gospel story. When we repent God forgives and forgets. Like the father of the Prodigal Son, He embraces us and showers us with love.
 But even though we may experience God’s mercy and love by repenting of our sins, sin nevertheless damages us – especially our mortal sins. This past Lent and Easter I spoke at length about the burdens of sin – of how sin damages us and our relationships.
 For this reason we should never willfully commit sin, presuming that we can go to confession afterwards and that all will be well. Sin damages us, and presuming upon God’s mercy without being fully contrite will leave us bereft of forgiveness.
 Yet the destructive and enslaving effects of sin need not last forever. Healing is possible with God’s grace, but our healing is contingent upon our response to our sins and the unfailing offer of God’s mercy.
 After being called out by Nathan, David repented in sackcloth and ashes, and while the child born of his adultery died because of his sin, Bathsheba eventually bore him another son and David’s kingdom prospered. More importantly, David became holy.
 The sinful woman in the Gospel is also a great example of true repentance. She knows that her sins are grave and she weeps over them. She makes reparation through a grand display of humility and love.
 In truth, God expects something similar from us. He expects us to humble ourselves and make reparation as best we can, especially for our grave sins.
 Last Sunday I mentioned how our Lord raises us to life from the death of sin through the grace of confession. I also mentioned how we should strive for perfect contrition, i.e., being sorry for our sins because they offend our Lord rather than being sorry because we fear the hell our sins merit.
 Along those same lines, I encourage you this week to consider how you confess your sins and how you do your penance. Do you prepare adequately before your confession, and are you brutally honest when you confess your sins – or do you make excuses for yourself as you confess and try to cast yourself in the best light?
 And when you do your penance, do you do it quickly so as to get it over with? Or are you deliberate, recollected, and loving toward our Lord?
 Moreover, if you have committed a particularly grave sin in your life like abortion, murder, adultery, sterilization, or a prolonged use of contraception, then I encourage you to consider making on‐going reparation for those sins.
 If you are sorry for the sin and have confessed it, be at peace with the knowledge that God has forgiven it. But out of a great love for God and gratitude for His mercy, make a grand gesture of your contrition.
 Praying the Rosary or Chaplet of Divine Mercy every day in reparation for your sins, making a significant donation to a charity, or regularly denying yourself things that you enjoy are all great ways to do this.
 Brothers and sisters, the sinful woman in today’s Gospel was forgiven much because she loved much. May we show our love for our Lord by making humble reparation for our sins.
 And may we trust that our Lord’s mercy and forgiveness will cover whatever sins we’ve committed in this life, no matter how grave they may be.
16 June 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

 

Jesus’ Compassion Is Like A Mother’s Love

In Uncategorized on 2014/05/02 at 12:00 AM

“Popular piety,”  Pope Francis said, “embraces many symbols and the Heart of Jesus is the ultimate symbol of God’s mercy. It is not, however, an imaginary symbol but a real symbol that represents the centre, the source from which flows the salvation for all of humanity.” Among various references in the Gospels to the Heart of Jesus, the Pope emphasized the witness of Christ’s death according to St. John. When Jesus was already dead, a soldier pierced his side with a lance and immediately blood and water flowed out. “John recognized in that, apparently random, sign the fulfilment of the prophecies: from the heart of Jesus, the Lamb sacrificed upon the Cross, spring forth forgiveness and life for all humanity.”

“But Jesus’ mercy is not just a feeling. It is a force that gives life, that brings humanity back to life! Today’s Gospel reading says the same thing, in the story of the widow of Naim. Jesus, with his disciples, is arriving in Naim, a village in Galilee, at exactly the moment of a funeral. A young man, the only son of a widowed woman is being carried out to be buried. Jesus’ gaze immediately fixes upon the crying mother. The Gospel writer Luke tells us: ‘When the Lord saw her, He was moved with pity for her’. This compassion is God’s love for humanity. It is mercy, that is, God’s attitude in contact with human misery, with our indigence, our suffering, our anguish. The biblical term ‘compassion’ recalls the maternal womb: indeed, a mother feels a reaction all her own when faced with her children’s pain. That is how God loves us, Scripture says.”

“And what is the fruit of this love, this mercy? It is life! Jesus said to the widow of Naim: ‘Do not weep’, and he called to the dead son and woke him as if from sleep. Let’s think about this. It’s beautiful. God’s mercy gives life to the man, raises him from the dead. The Lord always looks upon us with mercy … awaits us with mercy. Let us not be afraid to draw near to him! He has a merciful heart! If we show him our inner wounds, our sins, He always forgives us. He is pure mercy!”

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“If God Didn’t Forgive Everyone, the World Would Not Exist”

In Uncategorized on 2013/03/22 at 12:00 AM

Vatican City, 17 March 2013 (VIS) – “Never forget this: the Lord never tires of forgiving us. Have you thought about the patience that God has with each of us?” These were the words that Pope Francis addressed to the nearly 200,000 people who had travelled from around Italy and from around the world in previous days to be able to live this first Angelus with the new Pope.

The event lasted only 15 minutes, many of which passed in attentive silence from the people assembled. “If God did not forgive us all, the world would not exist,” the Holy Father affirmed. The Roman Pontiff, Francis, spoke only in Italian. In the crowd, on his father’s shoulders, three-year-old Francesco said, in his child’s language: “I like. My Pope.”

The Holy Father commented on the day’s Gospel reading, the passages that recount the story of the adulterous woman. “God’s face is that of a merciful father who is always patient. … He never tires of forgiving us if we know how to return to him with a contrite heart. ‘Great is the Lord’s mercy’,” was the new Pope’s profound message. He combined his written text with spontaneous, off-the-cuff comments, which were full of good humour. Following is the complete text of the Pope’s words.

“Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!”, the Pope began. After our first meeting last Wednesday, today I again give my greetings to you all! And I am happy to do it on Sunday, the Lord’s Day! This is beautiful and important for us Christians: to meet on Sunday, to greet one another, to talk as we are doing now, in the square. This square that, thanks to the media, takes on worldly dimensions.”

“In this Fifth Sunday of Lent, the Gospel presents us with the story of the adulterous woman whom Jesus saves from being condemned to death. It captures Jesus’ attitude: we do not hear words of contempt, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, that invite us to conversion. ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more!’ Well, brothers and sisters! God’s face is that of a merciful father who is always patient. Have you thought about God’s patience, the patience that He has with each of us? That is His mercy. He always has patience, is always patient with us, understanding us, awaiting us, never tiring of forgiving us if we know how to return to him with a contrite heart. ‘Great is the Lord’s mercy’, says the Psalm.

“In these days, I have been able to read a book by a cardinal—Cardinal Kasper, a talented theologian, a good theologian—on mercy. And it did me such good, that book, but don’t think that I’m publicizing the books of my cardinals. That is not the case! But it did me such good, so much good… Cardinal Kasper said that hearing the word mercy changes everything. It is the best thing that we can hear: it changes the world. A bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand God’s mercy well, this merciful Father who has such patience… Think of the prophet Isaiah who asserts that even if our sins were scarlet red, God’s love would make them white as snow. That is beautiful, [this aspect of mercy]. I remember when, just after I was made bishop, in 1992, the Madonna of Fatima came to Buenos Aires and a large Mass for the sick was celebrated. I went to hear confessions at that Mass. Near the end of the Mass I got up because I had to administer a confirmation. An over 80-year-old woman came up to me, humbly, very humbly. I asked her: ‘Nonna [grandmother]—because that’s how we address our elderly—Nonna, you want to confess?’ ‘Yes’, she told me. ‘But if you haven’t sinned…’ And she said to me: ‘We have all sinned…’ ‘But perhaps the Lord will not forgive you…’ ‘The Lord forgives everyone’, she told me, with certainy. ‘But how do you know that, ma’am?’ ‘If the Lord didn’t forgive everyone, the world would not exist.’ I wanted to ask her: ‘Tell me, have you studied at the Gregorian [Pontifical University]?’, because that is the wisdom that the Holy Spirit gives: the inner wisdom of God’s mercy. Let us not forget this word: God never tires of forgiving us, never! ‘So, Father, what is the problem?’ Well, the problem is that we get tired, we don’t want to, we get tired of asking forgiveness. Let us never get tired. Let us never get tired. He is the loving Father who always forgives, who has that heart of mercy for all of us. And let us also learn to be merciful with everyone. Let us call upon the intercession of the Madonna who has held in her arms the Mercy of God made human.”

After praying the Angelus, the Pope greeted the tens of thousands of faithful who overflowed St. Peter’s Square: “Thank you for your welcome and your prayers,” he said. I ask that you pray for me. I renew my embrace to the faithful of Rome and extend it to all of you who have come from various parts of Italy and the world just as to those who are joining in with us by means of the media. I have chosen the name of the Patron Saint of Italy, St. Francis of Assisi, and this reinforces my spiritual ties to this land that, as you know, is where my family originated. But Jesus has called us to be part of a new family: his Church. [He has called] this family of God to walk together the paths of the Gospel. May the Lord bless you and the Virgin protect you! And don’t forget this: The Lord never tires of forgiving. We are the ones who tire of asking forgiveness.”

The Pope’s final words to the crowd gathered in the square were greeted with deafening applause: “Have a good Sunday and enjoy your lunch!” They were only 15 minutes, a quarter of an hour that, for many thousands, held a stronger interest than the other two competing activities taking place in Rome today: the city’s marathon and the Quirinal Palace’s open house.

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