Sunday, September 15, 2013

Renew Within Me

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ
So the LORD relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people.  Exodus 32:14
A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.  Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me. Psalm 51:12-13
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  Of these I am the foremost.  But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life. 1 Timothy 1:15B-16
"He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.  But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”  Luke 15:31-32
Our piety acknowledges that Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  The three parables of Luke 15 make us aware of this.  The image of the father rushing out to welcome back his lost son teach us how we should be welcoming of each person’s changing for the better.  There is no one of us in our piety free of the evil we would not do or so filled with good that we do our best at every opportunity to do something to welcome home the sinner.  We all have our weaknesses that need God’s forgiveness from each other.  The Christ of the Mystical Body works in us when we are forgiving.
We study how God reconciles the world to himself in Christ.  God entrusts us with the message of reconciliation.  There is a road back for each person if we open our hearts to the love of God in Christ.  We can be the shortcut to God’s love if we can learn how to love the sinner as Christ did.  Force never makes right.  Turning the other cheek is the example we are trying to follow.  If someone is hurting us, we ask why.  It is hard not to yell back when one is decrying us.  Violence breeds more violence and there is no one appointing us to be God’s judgment on the world.   We are in God’s territory when we are judging.
Closeness with Christ’s human presence changes sinners into saints.  Christ asked Paul why he was persecuting him.  Paul did not at first recognize that it is Christ who is hurt when we strike out at the goodness of another.  We need to serve the Lord with all our heart.  Our prayer, penance and good works tune us into what the Lord is asking of us.  We ask the Lord to wash us clean from our guilt.  He is more than willing to create a steadfast spirit within us if we ask.  We search out the presence of the Lord in each other.  The Lord offers us his Holy Spirit.  It is Christ who appoints us to the ministry of reconciliation.  Wherever there is love God is there.  How can we love the God we do not see if we do not love the neighbor we do see?  Our forgiveness of one another is a chalice of Blessing we can offer to our enemies.  Obedience and sacrifice are one and the same when we accept a sinner back into the fold.  Then our brother who was lost has been found.  Thus we live the message of reconciliation.  Our sacrifice needs to be a humble and a contrite spirit. 

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