Third Sunday after Pentecost.-On the Mercy of God towards sinners.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
“There shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than ninety-nine just, who need not penance.”–Luke xv. 7.
In this day’s gospel it is related that the Pharisees murmured against Jesus Christ, because He received sinners and eat with them. “This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them” (v. 2). In answer to their murmurings our Lord said: If any of you had a hundred sheep, and lost one of them, would He not leave the ninety-nine in the desert, and go in search of the lost sheep? would He not continue His search until He found it? and having found it, would He not carry it on His shoulders, and, rejoicing, say to His friends and neighbours: “Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost?” (v. 6.) In conclusion, the Son of God said: “I say to you, there shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than, upon ninety-nine just, that need not penance.” There is more joy in heaven upon one sinner who returns to God, than upon many just who preserve the grace of God. Let us, then, speak to-day on the mercy which God shows to sinners, first, in calling them to repentance; secondly, in receiving them when they return.
First Point. Mercy of God in calling sinners to repentance.
1. After having sinned by eating the forbidden apple, Adam fled from the face of the Lord through shame of the sin He had committed. What must have been the astonishment of the angels when they saw God seeking after him, and calling Him as it were with tears, saying: “Adam, where art thou?” (Gen. iii. 9.) My beloved Adam, where art thou? These words, says Father Pereyra, in His commentary on this passage, “are the words of a father in search of His lost son.” Towards you, brethren, the Lord acts in a similar manner. You fled from Him and He has so often invited you to repentance by means of confessors and preachers. Who was it that spoke to you when they exhorted you to penance? It was the Lord. Preachers are, as St. Paul says, His ambassadors. “For Christ, therefore, we are ambassadors; God, as it were, exhorting by us.” (2 Cor. v. 20.) Hence He writes to the sinners of Corinth: “For Christ, we beseech you, be reconciled to God.” (Ibid.) In explaining these words St. Chrysostom says: “Ipse Christus vos obsecrat: quid autem obsecrat? Reconciliamini Deo.” Then, says the holy doctor, Jesus Christ Himself entreats you, sinners: and what does He entreat you to do? To make peace with God. The saint adds: “Non enim ipse inimicus gerit, sed vos.” It is not God that acts like an enemy, but you; that is, God does not refuse to make peace with sinners, but they are unwilling to be reconciled with him.”
2. But notwithstanding the refusal of sinners to return to God, He does not cease to continue to call them by so many interior inspirations, remorses of conscience, and terrors of chastisements. Thus, beloved Christians, God has spoken to you, and, seeing that you disregarded His words, He has had recourse to scourges; He has called you to repentance by such a persecution, by temporal losses, by the death of a relative, by sickness which has brought you to the brink of the grave. He has, according to holy David, placed before your eyes the bow of your damnation, not that you might be condemned to eternal misery, but that you might be delivered from hell, which you deserved. “Thou hast given a warning to them that fear Thee, that they may flee from before the bow, that Thy beloved may be delivered.” (Ps. lix. 6). You regarded certain afflictions as misfortunes; but they were mercies from God; they were the voices of God calling on you to renounce sin, that you might escape perdition. “My jaws are become hoarse.” (Ps. Ixviii. 4.) My son, says the Lord, I have almost lost my voice in calling you to repentance. “I am weary of entreating thee.” (Jer. xv. (5.) I have become weary in imploring you to offend Me no more.
3. By your ingratitude you deserved that He should call you no more; but He has continued to invite you to return to Him. And Who is it that has called you? It is a God of infinite majesty, Who is to be one day your judge, and on Whom your eternal happiness or misery depends. And what are you but miserable worms deserving hell? Why has He called you? To restore to you the life of grace which you have lost. “Return ye and live.” (Ezec. xviii. 32.) To acquire the grace of God, it would be but little to spend a hundred years in a desert in fasting and penitential austerities. But God offered it to you for a single act of sorrow; you refused that act, and after your refusal He has not abandoned you, but has sought after you, saying: “And why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ez. xviii. 31.) Like a father weeping and following His son, who has voluntarily thrown himself into the sea, God has sought after you, saying, through compassion to each of you: My son, why dost thou bring thyself to eternal misery? “Why will you die, O house of Israel?”
4. As a pigeon that seeks to take shelter in a tower, seeing the entrance closed on every side, continues to fly round till she finds an opening through which she enters, so, says St. Augustine, did the divine mercy act towards me when I was in enmity with God. Circuibat super me fidelis a longe misericordia tua.” The Lord treated you, brethren, in a similar manner. As often as you sinned you banished Him from your souls. The wicked have said to God: “Depart from us.” (Job xxi. 14.) And, instead of abandoning you, what has the Lord done? He has placed Himself at the door of your ungrateful hearts, and, by His knocking, has made you feel that He was outside, and seeking for admission. “Behold I stand at the gate and knock.” (Apoc. iii. 20.) He, as it were, entreated you to have compassion on Him, and to allow Him to enter. “Open to me, my sister.” (Cant. v. 2.) Open to me; I will deliver you from perdition; I will forget all the insults you have offered to me if you give up sin. Perhaps you are unwilling to open to me through fear of becoming poor by restoring ill-gotten goods, or by separating from a person who provided for you? Am not I, says the Lord, able to provide for you? Perhaps you think that, if you renounce a certain friendship which separates you from me, you shall lead a life of misery? Am I not able to content your soul and to make your life happy? Ask those who love me with their whole hearts, and they will tell you that my grace makes them content, and that they would not exchange their condition, though poor and humble, for all the delights and riches of the monarchs of the earth.
Second Point. Mercy of God in waiting for sinners to return to Him.
5. We have considered the divine mercy in calling sinners to repentance: let us now consider His patience in waiting for their return. That great servant of God, D. Sancia Carillo, a penitent of Father John Avila, used to say, that the consideration of God’s patience with sinners made her desire to build a church, and entitle it “ The Patience of God.” Ah, sinners! who could ever bear with what God has borne from you? If the offences which you have committed against God had been offered to your best friends, or even to your parents, they surely would have sought revenge. When you insulted the Lord He was able to chastise you; you repeated the insult, and He did not punish your guilt, but preserved your life, and provided you with sustenance. He, as it were, pretended not to see the injuries you offered to Him, that you might enter into yourselves, and cease to offend Him. “Thou overlookest the sins of men for the sake of repentance.” (Wis. xi. 24.) But how, O Lord, does it happen, that Thou canst not behold a single sin, and that Thou dost bear in silence with so many? “Thy eyes are too pure to behold evil, and Thou canst not look on iniquity. Why lookest Thou upon them that do unjust things, and holdest Thy peace?” (Hab. i. 13.) Thou seest the vindictive prefer their own before Thy honour; Thou beholdest the unjust, instead of restoring what they have stolen, continuing to commit theft; the unchaste, instead of being ashamed of their impurities, boasting of them before others; the scandalous, not content with the sins which they themselves commit, but seeking to draw others into rebellion against Thee; Thou seest all this, and holdest Thy peace, and dost not inflict vengeance.
6. “Omnis creatura,” says St. Thomas, “tibi factor! deserviens excandescit adversus injustos.” All creatures–the earth, fire, air, water–because they all obey God, would, by a natural instinct, wish to punish the sinner, and to avenge the injuries which he does to the Creator; but God, through His mercy, restrains them. But, Lord, Thou waitest for the wicked that they may enter into themselves; and dost Thou not see that they abuse Thy mercy to offer new insults to Thy majesty? “Thou hast been favourable to the nation, O Lord, Thou hast been favourable to the nation: art Thou glorified?” (Isa. xxvi. 15.) Thou hast waited so long for sinners; Thou hast abstained from inflicting punishment; but what glory have you reaped from Thy forbearance? They have become more wicked. Why so much patience with such ungrateful souls? Why dost Thou continue to wait for their repentance? Why dost Thou not chastise their wickedness? The same Prophet answers: “The Lord waiteth that He may have mercy on you.” (Isa. xxx. 18.) God waits for sinners that they may one day repent, and that after their repentance, He may pardon and save them. “As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” (Ezech. xxxiii. 11.) St. Augustine goes so far as to say that the Lord, if He were not God, should be unjust on account of His excessive patience towards sinners. “Deus, Deus meus, pace tua dicam, nisi quia Deus esses, injustus esses.” By waiting for those who abuse His patience to multiply their sins, God appears to do an injustice to the divine honour. “We,” continues the saint, “sin; we adhere to sin (some of us become familiar and intimate with sin, and sleep for months and years in this miserable state); we rejoice at sin (some of us go so far as to boast of our wickedness); and thou art appeased! “We provoke Thee to anger—Thou dost invite us to mercy.” We and God appear to be, as it were, engaged in a contest, in which we labour to provoke Him to chastise our guilt, and He invites us to pardon.
7. Lord, exclaimed holy Job, what is man, that Thou dost entertain so great an esteem for him? Why dost Thou love Him so tenderly? “What is man that Thou shouldst magnify him? or why dost Thou set Thy heart upon him?” (Job. vii. 17.) St. Denis the Areopagite says, that God seeks after sinners like a despised lover, entreating them not to destroy themselves. “Deus etiam a se aversos amatorie sequitur, et deprecatur ne pereant.” Why, ungrateful souls, do you fly from Me? I love you and desire nothing but your welfare. Ah, sinners! says St. Teresa, remember that He Who now calls and seeks after you, is that God Who shall one day be your judge. If you are lost, the great mercies which He now shows you, shall be the greatest torments which, you shall suffer in hell.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
Of Avoiding Superfluity of Words.
O Lord! Thou Thyself hast commanded us to watch and pray, that we enter not into temptation (Matt. xviii. 41); but in vain hast Thou given this salutary admonition, unless Thou wilt grant us this vigilance and spirit of prayer. In vain dost Thou exhort us to restrain our tongues, unless Thou governest them by Thy grace. Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, and a door round about my lips (Psal. cxl. 9), to the end, that I may speak little, never speak ill, and always speak in such a manner as to edify those with whom I converse. Amen.–Thomas à Kempis–Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch X prayer.
June Devotion: The Blessed Sacrament and the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Virtues to practice: Obedience, Piety, Dutifulness
Prayers to the Wound of the Heart of Jesus.
Blessed be the holy Wound of Thy Heart, my most sweet Jesus! Accept, O Lord, my heart and all the powers of my soul. Detach them from earthly affections. Let me lose even the remembrance of the things of this world. Cast my soul into the adorable Wound of Thy Side, into the ocean of Thy love, into the source of true life. Unite my heart for ever to Thy tender Heart, so truly that it will be impossible for me to desire what is not in conformity with Thy will. May I in all things entirely renounce my own will, and unite myself by faith, hope and charity to Thee, my Lord, my God and my Creator. Amen.
O most sweet Jesus, through the Wound of Thy Heart, pardon, I beseech Thee, all my offences against Thee by acting without sufficient purity of intention, or by following my own perverse will. I offer Thee my heart, that Thou mayest unite it to Thy Heart. Then I shall neither seek nor see anything but Thee in all things. I shall have no other will than Thine. Amen.
Jesu! Creator of the world,
Of all mankind Redeemer blest,
True God of God, in Whom we see
Thy Father’s image clear expressed!
Thee, Saviour, love alone constrained
To make our mortal flesh Thine own,
And, as a second Adam, come
For the first Adam to atone.
That selfsame love which made the sky,
Which made the sea and stars, and earth,
Took pity on our misery,
And broke the bondage of our birth.
O Jesus! in Thy Heart divine
May that same love for ever glow!
Forever mercy to mankind
From that exhaustless fountain flow!
For this the Sacred Heart was pierced,
And both with blood and water ran –
To cleanse us from the stains of guilt,
And be the hope and strength of man.
Jesu, to Thee be glory given,
Who from Thy Heart dost grace outpour,
To Father and to Paraclete
Be endless praise for evermore. Amen.
An indulgence of 5 years. A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, If this hymn is devoutly recited every day for a month (S.P.Ap., March 12, 1936). (Raccolta)
Copyright © 2013 – 2014. Holy Cross Publications. All rights reserved.