THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for November 21st, 2017
Tuesday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Liturgical texts here
THE art of beginning again always consists in remembering, believing, and trusting that it is really God who is initiating a new start. That if you are even feeling sorrow for your sins or thinking of repenting, that this is already a sign of His grace and love at work in your life.
We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
But this is also the point of attack by Satan whom St. John calls the “accuser of the brethren.” For the devil knows full well that the compunction you feel is itself a light in your soul, and thus, he comes to snuff it out so as to make you forget, doubt, and utterly reject the idea that God would begin again with you. And so, a crucial part of this art is knowing that, if you sin, there will always follow a battle with those fallen angels who have studied human nature for thousands of years. It is in these instances that you must…
…hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16)
As said in Part I, the first thing we must do is cry out “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me a sinner.” It is like Zacchaeus who, in today’s Gospel, climbs the tree so as to see Jesus. It takes effort to climb that tree over and over again, especially with habitual sin that has taken root. But the art of beginning again consists foremost in a humility that, despite how small, how little, how miserable we are, we will always climb the tree to find Jesus.
The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. —POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 3
Indeed, Jesus asks to dine with Zacchaeus before he confesses his sins! So too in the parable of the prodigal son, the father runs to his son and kisses and embraces him before the boy confesses his guilt. Simply, you are loved.
Be not afraid of your Savior, O sinful soul. I make the first move to come to you, for I know that by yourself you are unable to lift yourself to me. Child, do not run away from your Father; be willing to talk openly with your God of mercy who wants to speak words of pardon and lavish his graces on you. How dear your soul is to Me! I have inscribed your name upon My hand; you are engraved as a deep wound in My Heart. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1485
But now, two things must happen. First, like Zacchaeus and the prodigal son, we do indeed need to confess our sins. So many Catholics are as terrified of the confessional as they are of the dentist’s office. But we have to stop worrying about what the pastor thinks of us (which is only pride) and concern ourselves with being restored to God. For it is there, in the confessional, that the greatest of miracles are worked.
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! —Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1448
“…those who go to Confession frequently, and do so with the desire to make progress” will notice the strides that they make in their spiritual lives. “It would be an illusion to seek after holiness, according to the vocation one has received from God, without partaking frequently of this sacrament of conversion and reconciliation.” —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Penitentiary conference, March 27th, 2004; catholicculture.org
St. Pio recommended confession every eight days! Yes, the art of beginning again must incorporate the frequent reception of this Sacrament, at least once a month. Most people wash their cars more often than that while their souls remain stained and wounded!
The second thing is that you must also forgive those who have injured you, and make reparation where necessary. In the story of Zacchaeus, it is this pledge of reparation that unleashes the torrents of Divine Mercy, not only upon himself, but his whole household.
“Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house… For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” (Today’s Gospel)
God proves his love for us in that
while we were still sinners
Christ died for us.