WHEN you are overwhelmed with your sinfulness, there are only nine words you need to remember:
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. (Luke 23:42)
With these nine words, the thief on the cross was granted access to an Ocean of God’s love and mercy. With these nine words, Jesus washed away the thief’s sinful past, and fixed him deep within His Sacred Heart for all eternity. With these nine words, the thief on the cross became like a little child, and thus received the promise Jesus made to such souls:
Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these… Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise. (Matt 19:14, Luke 23:43)
But perhaps you feel you are too unworthy to ask for a share in the Kingdom. Then, I recommend to you seven words.
A tax collector entered the temple, and unlike the thief, he couldn’t raise his eyes toward heaven. Instead, he cried out,
God, be merciful to me a sinner. (Luke 18:13)
With these seven words, the tax collector became right with God. With these seven words, the Pharisee who boasted that he never sinned remained condemned, and the tax collector was absolved. With these seven words, the Good Shepherd ran toward His lost sheep and carried him back to the fold.
There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7)
But perhaps you feel unworthy to even utter a sentence to the Almighty God. Then I recommend to you but one word.
Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Rom 10:13)
With this one Word, you invoke not just a person, but your salvation. With this one Word prayed with the heart of the thief and the humility of the tax collector, you draw Mercy into your very soul. With this one Word, you enter into the presence of Him who has loved you to the end, and who knew from all eternity the day, the hour, the minute, and the second that you would call upon His name… and He would answer:
I AM… I AM is here.
To pray “Jesus” is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2666
But if you say that you are too unworthy to invoke so grand a name upon your sinful lips, then I do not say I have any other words for you. For this Word, this Name, contains all you’ll ever need.
Rather, you should humble yourself before so great a God who has revealed to you in this late hour the one word which is the key to opening the treasuries of Mercy and forgiveness. Otherwise, you will remain with the other thief upon the cross who refused to become like a child; with the Pharisee, who remained proud and obstinate; with all those souls who are eternally separated from God because they refused to utter one word, which could have saved them.
Nine. Seven. One. You choose which… but speak. God Himself is listening… listening, and waiting.
There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved… you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; 1 Cor 6:11)
Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8)
First published October 23rd, 2007.
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