Wednesday, May 18, 2011

“Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life”

If a man does what he can and is truly penitent, however often he comes to Me for grace and pardon, "As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live"; I will no longer remember his sins, but all will be forgiven him.--Imitation of Christ by Thomas (à Kempis)

Gospel text (Jn 12,44-50):Jesus cried out and said,
“Whoever believes in me believes not only in me
but also in the one who sent me,
and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.
I came into the world as light,
so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.
And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them,
I do not condemn him,
for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.
Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words
has something to judge him: the word that I spoke,
it will condemn him on the last day,
because I did not speak on my own,
but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.
And I know that his commandment is eternal life.
So what I say, I say as the Father told me.”

During this month of May, we experienced what seemed like excessive cloudiness. Some days the clouds brought rain but more often they just hung around and brought gloom. “I am so tired of the clouds. When will it end?” became a frequent refrain that is usually associated with January and February rather than May.

Today’s gospel speaks of a different kind of darkness that permeates our environment. It is a darkness that results from a failure to recognize and accept the light of Jesus. The darkness of the May clouds weighed on peoples’ mood and spirit. That darkness cannot compare to the darkness experienced when we do not hear the word of Jesus.

Jesus provides more than a few hours or days of light, but rather an eternal light. It is a light that provides relief from the trials and sufferings of everyday life. It is a light that can warm and comfort us.

Christ “did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.” I think the nature of our worries comes from the pure essence of being human: we each have done wrong, and we each know it. It’s as if the more we examine ourselves and try to become closer to God, the farther we fall away. We might be faced with the questions: How can God ever forgive me? If my life were to end right now, would I be able to enter into God’s Heavenly Kingdom? What good can ever replace the bad?

I am sure that some of you have had similar thoughts; we wish we didn’t, but sometimes that notion cannot be overlooked. The same happens in our spiritual journeys: we realize that we have done bad, and we become inundated by guilt, a guilt that seems to rip us from God’s presence. How many times do we have to sin for God to say, ‘That’s it, it’s over!’?

Easy answer: never. It is NEVER too late for God, absolutely never.

Part of being human is embarrassment, and it is exactly what we get when our weaknesses are placed in the spotlight. But God is different. God always returns a warm smile. God always says the two words that we often struggle with when we go to Him: “I forgive.” God is always there to welcome us into his Kingdom and always will love us in a way that we cannot understand.

Thanks be to God.

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