4th Week of Lent “This man welcomes sinners…”
Jesus welcomed sinners. Some of his Jewish compatriots were not comfortable with that.
They felt that part of holiness included separating themselves from sinners. Psalm 1 says as much,
“Blessed is he who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits
in the seat of scoffers…” We should certainly be careful about the company we keep. Evil company
can influence us. Therein lies the key. Does our association with a ‘sinner’ influence them for the
good or us for the bad?
If we are living in a state of grace, then grace itself will resist the influences of sin around us and even within
us. As I stated in an earlier article, temptation occurs through the world, the flesh, and the devil. From a state of grace,
living in communion with Christ and His Church, according to a well-formed conscience, every temptation is an
opportunity for growth in virtue. We should not despair when this happens because we can trust that God “…will
not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you
may be able to endure it.” (1 Cor 10:13)
St. Padre Pio put it this way, “Stop entertaining those vain fears. Remember it is not feeling which constitutes
guilt but the consent to such feelings. Only the free will is capable of good or evil. But when the will sighs under the
trial of the tempter and does not will what is presented to it, there is not only no fault but there is virtue.”
God desires our growth. He also desires the rescue of those mired in sin. Sometimes we are called to witness
to those whom God has put in our path. This can be done in a very loving and non-judgmental way. Our concern for
another’s choices need not be an indictment against their character or reflect some judgment of God that we have no
way of knowing. It can simply impart love. As a friend, as a relative, as a fellow human being, we can say that
particular acts we know to be inherently wrong will have a harmful effect on everyone involved.
This separates the sin from the sinner on the level of judgment. We have no idea if this person is better or
worse off than ourselves. We have no idea where they will spend eternity. We have no idea what has led them to such
a choice. We have no idea where they will be in ten minutes. We can leave that to God. But we must call people, we
must invite, beginning with ourselves, to the infinite mercy of God. Jesus thirsts to forgive and heal every human
person. May we satisfy that thirst.
Reconciliation Service - Thursday, March 18, 7pm
…he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any,
they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (Jn 20:23)
There is joy and freedom in penance. Now that we have traveled the Lenten journey, seeking ways to grow
closer to God, leaving sin behind, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a perfect way to prepare for Holy Week and
Easter. We will have 13 confessors to choose from Thursday evening. Because of long lines in the past I’ve asked for
more priest support to make the evening easier on all of us. That gives you lots of opportunity for anonymity as well.
Why go to confession? How about LOVE? In any relationship our imperfections come out eventually and we
discover our vulnerability to sin and pettiness. The sacrament of Reconciliation gives us a formal chance to claim our
truest selves and renounce those actions that are false and demeaning. As Jesus said, “The truth will set us free.” This
includes the truth about our sinfulness. Confessing these in the confessional cleanses us and opens us to the healing
power and restoration of absolution. Come hear those beautiful words,
“Your sins are forgiven.”
- Fr. Ed
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