From Father Steven - April 24, 2022
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This weekend we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. Please join us at 3pm as we pray a chaplet of Divine Mercy. For those not familiar with Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Saint John Paul II instituted the second Sunday of Easter as a memorial of God’s immense desire to bestow his forgiveness on his people. Jesus himself appeared to St. Faustina Kowalska and ordered her to make known to the world his desire for mercy, as it also appears in the prophet Ezekiel, “I do not wish the sinner to die, but to turn back to me and live.” (Ezk 33:11)
Sometimes I have these memories from my childhood. I remember how all the kids from the neighborhood would come together to play different games. Then my school friends sometimes would gather around my house and we would play hide and seek around the blocks surrounding my house. Every now and then we would get a bit mischievous…nothing too bad, but enough to get myself in trouble. As all mothers understand, my mother had this sixth sense to know/find out about those moments. So whenever we would do something wrong, I would be afraid of coming back to the house, because I knew that she was waiting for me. Many of us also have that feeling regarding God. When we walk out of line, we don’t want to approach him, because we know we would/should get ourselves in trouble. I remember once how I was playing around a large metal box on the street near my parent’s friend’s house, which my mom had warned me to stay away from, when suddenly I tripped the safety bar and the lid closed on my finger. Knowing that I would get myself in trouble, I tried to endure the pain of a broken finger because I didn’t want to tell my parents. When getting out of my car and noticing my teary eye, my mom found out that I was in great pain. Instead of giving me a hard time, she was very concerned about me, and after a hug, she took me to the hospital. I share this story because we can have the same feeling approaching God. We at times carry burdens and endure suffering thinking that we can get in trouble if we confess them, or even worse, we think it’s ok, and it becomes part of life.
Reflecting on all the times that Jesus encounters those who are in trouble in the Gospel, he never gives those people a hard time. Not too long ago we heard the story of the woman caught in adultery. One of these upcoming Sundays we will hear the time in which Jesus speaks to Peter after having renounced him three times before the Passion. This Sunday we hear the encounter of Jesus and Thomas, who instead of pointing fingers, approaches him as a sign of mercy and asks to be touched.
Brothers and Sisters, God wants to be touched by all of us. Not by his wrath though, but rather by his mercy. There are many visionaries who have brought us the message that it pains Jesus, God the Father, the Blessed Mother, to us carrying our burdens, to be oppressed by sin, while there they are waiting to help us. “God has sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might have life through him.” (Jn 3:17). Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Therefore, I urge you all to approach the sacrament of reconciliation and to receive the mercy of God. He willed to give us his forgiveness through this sacrament, as we hear this week, Jesus telling the apostles, “Whose sins YOU FORGIVE, are forgiven.”
Lastly, many saints have said that going to confession is like going to the doctor. Not only because we may resist visiting both, but rather, it’s often the only way in which our body/soul may be healed. As we go to the doctor and we need to disclose what bothers us, and is causing pain in our bodies, we are also called to say what pains our souls. The priests in the moment of confession are not called to give us sermons and reproaches, but rather to provide a healing remedy to our souls. We often hear that people may feel embarrassed to confess with priests that they know because they are afraid to be recognized by what they have done. Going back to the story of my childhood, when my mom sees me nowadays, do you think that she is thinking of all the mischievousness that I have done in the past, or rather her beloved child? The same is God to us, and we priests as well. Believe it or not, God grants us “spiritual amnesia” not to remember anything that we hear in confession. Besides having a troubled memory as many of you know, after hearing confessions for hours, the only thing we think, is how Great is our God who forgives all of our sins! Let’s not carry undue burden, but let’s approach him, who is all “good and ready to forgive.” (Ps. 86:5)
Jesus, I trust in you, Jesus, I trust in you, Jesus, I trust in you,
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Father Steven Clemence