24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“AS OFTEN AS YOU COME TO ME”
By Emily VanBerkum
For the past few weeks I’ve been reflecting on a quote that a friend of mine posted to social media. It was from the 1930s diary of Sr. Faustina Kowalska in which Jesus said to her in a vision, “Know that as often as you come to me, humbling yourself and asking my forgiveness, I pour out a superabundance of graces on your soul, and your imperfection vanishes before my eyes, and I see only your love and your humility. You lose nothing but gain much.” What powerful words! God’s love for us does not hold resentment or search for ways to mete out punishment until we have merited forgiveness. Rather, God’s love is so profound that God’s forgiveness is likened to a “superabundance of graces.”
Have you ever wronged a friend or family member, perhaps even a stranger? Then has the pain of that wrongdoing festered in your heart eventually creating a feeling of tremendous guilt or unworthiness? It gives me great consolation that I can hand over to Jesus, in humility, all of my imperfections and sinfulness. Then out of love those imperfections are transformed into grace and we receive the fruits of being in relationship with a loving God rather than a punishing one. As I reflect on this quote and on the many times and ways I’ve been forgiven in my life, I have come to helpfully view God’s forgiveness as something that is freely given with no strings attached.
For example, in today’s Gospel parable of the lost sheep, what is most striking to me is that when the shepherd finds the lost sheep, he does not punish it, exclude it from the others, or reveal any bitterness through his actions. No. Instead, the shepherd is “good” and calls together his friends and neighbours saying “rejoice with me for I have found my sheep that was lost.” Give God the opportunity to rejoice over your “return,” over your relinquishing of sin or resentment and put trust in God’s ability to see only love for you rather than your imperfections. If we put faith in God to do this for us, I believe that we will more readily be able to do this for others. For ultimately in doing so we “lose nothing but gain much.”
Exodus 32.7-11, 13-14 1