Monday, April 16, 2012

The Gates of Forgiveness

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

Last Sunday, we saw how God the Father manifested his love for Jesus by resurrecting Him from the dead. All the gospel spoke of was an empty tomb and burial linens cast aside which were supposed to be evidences that Jesus is not among the dead for he is living. Today, the Gospel speaks of Jesus appearing to his disciples – yes, to his disciples who, on the night he was betrayed, abandoned him. They abandoned him out of fear. In fact, they were still afraid as they kept themselves behind closed doors. They were afraid of the Jews. And yet, despite the closed doors, Jesus stood before them. He did not come with a reproach: “Why did you abandon me? Where were you when I needed you?” He came with a greeting: “Peace be with you!” It was truly a fitting greeting for now, all is at peace. By his death and his resurrection, the Father has reconciled the world to himself and now, there was one thing left to do: to send the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins. Thus, he breathes on his apostles and says to them: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whatsoever sins you forgive, they are forgiven them; whatsoever sins you do not forgive, they are not forgiven.”

He sends the Holy Spirit primarily to bring about the forgiveness of sins. “It was when he gave the Holy Spirit to his apostles that the risen Christ conferred on them his own power to forgive sins.” (CCC, 976) This forgiveness of sins is obtained first of all through baptism which is “the first and chief sacrament of forgiveness of sins because it unites us with Christ, who died for our sins, so that ‘we too might walk in newness of life.’” (CCC, 977) This is why when we look at the image of the Divine Mercy, we see rays of light coming forth from his wounded heart: a ray colored red and another pale: “The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls.” (Diary 299) The Water which makes souls righteous is the Baptismal Water. The Roman Catechism says: “When we make our first profession of faith while receiving holy Baptism that cleansed us, the forgiveness we received then was so full and complete that there remained to us absolutely nothing left to efface, neither original sin nor offenses committed by our own will, nor was there left any penalty to suffer in order to expiate them…” (Roman Catechism 1, 11, 3; CCC, 978)

The devil, however, does not let up in his attempt to snare us into his trap. In the weakness of our nature, we still combat the movements of concupiscence that never cease leading us into evil. That is why the merciful Savior gives us a second means to rise in the event that we fall into sin: the Sacrament of Penance. The Roman Catechism says: “If the Church has the power to forgive sins, then Baptism cannot be her only means of using the keys of the Kingdom of heaven received from Jesus Christ. The Church must be able to forgive all penitents their offenses, even if they should sin until the last moment of their lives” (Roman Catechism 1, 11, 4; CCC, 979). The Lord Jesus said to St. Faustina: “Tell souls where they are to look for solace; that is, in the Tribunal of Mercy (Sacrament of Penance). There the greatest miracles take place and are incessantly repeated. To avail oneself of this miracle, it is not necessary to go on a great pilgrimage or to carry out some external ceremony; it suffices to come with faith to the feet of My representative and to reveal to him one’s misery, and the miracle of the Divine Mercy will be fully demonstrated. Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that from a human standpoint, there would be no hope of restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. Oh, how miserable are those who do not take advantage of the miracle of God’s mercy! You will call out in vain, but it will be too late.” (Diary, 1448)

Indeed, “there is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. ‘There is no one, however wicked or guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance be honest.’ Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin.” (CCC, 982)

Jesus, I trust in you!

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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