THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for April 7th, 2014
Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent
The Valley of the Shadow of Death, George Inness, (1825-1894)
ON Saturday evening, I had the privilege of leading a group of young people and a handful of adults in Eucharistic Adoration. As we gazed upon Jesus’ Eucharistic face, listening to the words He spoke through St. Faustina, singing His name while others went to Confession… the love and mercy of God descended powerfully upon the room.
We were all sinners gathered there, some more than others. Yes, I’m sure there were many like Susanna in today’s first reading—beautiful, innocent souls who nonetheless knelt before Jesus with tears in their eyes, caught in the crossfire of life’s injustices and sorrows. And then there were others, like the adultress in today’s Gospel, who suddenly found themselves, like her, exposed at the feet of Jesus. But the quiet weeping, the many tears that fell, the gentle sighs… it was a sign that the Good Shepherd was entering into the “dark valley” of souls, whispering to them…
O soul steeped in darkness, do not despair. All is not yet lost. Come and confide in your God, who is love and mercy… Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet… I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1486, 699, 1146
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17)
But I pray that there were none like the two wicked elders in today’s first reading. They too were as guilty as the adultress in the Gospel; the lust of their hearts led them into sin as well. But rather than listen to their conscience; rather than obey the commandments; rather than welcome the “rod and the staff” that would have led them from the valley of death, they persisted in their evil. And they died in it.
If we willfully persist in serious sin; if we refuse to turn away from evil; if we ignore the voice of the Good Shepherd who says, “Go, and from now on do not sin any more”… then it is the Word of God that will lay us bare before the Judgment seat. We will condemn ourselves.
If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins but a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries. (Heb 10:26)
Do not be deceived, dear brothers and sisters! Christ died to take away our sins. But if we cling to them… we will keep them forever.
So do not be afraid of your past! Don’t despair for all you have done and failed to do. For right now, the Good Shepherd is ready to lead you to restful waters and greener pastures, to refresh your soul as He lays out a banquet of mercy before you—and before Satan who condemns you.
For if you let go of your sins… Jesus will take them away forever.
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… A soul’s greatest wretchedness does not enkindle Me with wrath; but rather, My Heart is moved towards it with great mercy… Come, then, with trust to draw graces from this fountain. I never reject a contrite heart. Your misery has disappeared in the depths of My mercy. Do not argue with Me about your wretchedness. You will give me pleasure if you hand over to me all your troubles and griefs. I shall heap upon you the treasures of My grace. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1485, 1739, 1485
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