Friday, April 21, 2006
Mending our ways  

Lent is a time for us to consider again our sinfulness and our desperate need for the saving act of the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Christ. Although we are now on the other side of Easter and no longer in Lent, we cannot forget the power of the cross. In fact, we are called in a deeper way to appreciate the impact that the cross has upon our lives and the life of the Church. Throughout the Easter season, there are no Old Testament readings. Instead, the Church presents us with readings from the Acts of the Apostles. It is as if we are being asked to recognize how Christ's salvation touched the lives of the apostles and the others who heard the Gospel for the first time in order for us to appreciate how the good news has affected us.

After forty days of Lent, we can become quite aware of our sinfulness. The hope of Easter is that we are not stuck in our sinfulness. Instead, through Christ's sacrifice on the cross, we can be forgiven our sins and begin anew. As one commentator has noted, the sacrament of confession is quite a bargain. We come to the priest with all of our sins, and we leave with sanctifying grace. Our sins have been absolved, and we have been given the grace we need to overcome the very sins which led us to the confessional.

Part of confession is reparation. Often, although our sins might be great, we are given a penance which is quite light. However, we also know that there are some sins the effects of which we must undo. This, too, is reparation. In today's Gospel reading (John 21:1-14), we read of the disciples, after the resurrection, encountering Christ on the shore of the lake after He has directed them how to catch fish. (It is interesting to note, as Mother Angelica once commented, the disciples never catch any fish in the Gospels without the help of Christ.) Although today's reading does not include the latter portion of the story, we know what happens. Jesus asks Peter three times whether he loves Him. Three times, Peter replies that he does. It must have been very painful for Peter to have to answer that he indeed loved Jesus. However, in His compassion for Peter, Jesus gave Peter the opportunity to make reparation for the three-fold denial of Christ during His Passion.

We might not like the idea of having to undo what we have done, but it is necessary if we are going to move forward. Peter would not have been able to preach as he did on Pentecost and the subsequent early days of the Church if he had not made reparation for his sins. However, because he had been forgiven and he had repaired what he had destroyed, he was able to abide in Christ and speak of the power of the cross to save lives.

I, too, need to take seriously the need to make reparation for my sins. It might be easy to simply do the penance I have been given by the priest, but in my heart I know that there is more that can be done. And there is more that needs to be done. Peter is my example. He, who had fallen so far, was raised up by the mercy of Christ. When he raised him up, Jesus gave him the opportunity to undo what he had done. Peter's response was love.

Posted by David at 8:11 AM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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