Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

7th SUNDAY IN OT:

I remember a story of an artist who was going to paint street scenes in a section of the city where he lived. He came upon a beggar standing on a street corner and there was something about the man’s appearance that prompted the artist to say, "If you will come to my studio tomorrow and let me paint a picture of you I will pay you." The next day the beggar appeared at the artist’s studio looking like a new man. He was all dressed up, wearing a neatly pressed suit, clean shirt and tie, polished shoes. He had taken a bath, shaved off his whiskers, washed his hair, brushed his teeth. And when the artist saw him, he dismissed him immediately, saying, "That’s not who you are!"

As we traverse in our life, it’s a necessity for us to be pleasing to God and looking very presentable, very respectable and cleaned up in the eyes of God. This can be realized then through making ourselves be available in the Sacrament of Penance. Confession is not a "car wash for the soul"; it is the sacrament of fight against sin in all its forms, the most powerful instrument we have for that purpose; and a loving encounter with Christ himself, present in the priest. Availing of this Sacrament, our Lord doesn’t dismiss us, saying, "That’s not who you are." Instead, He would ultimately embrace us to walk with Him together once again.

 Moreover, It would be a lot more appropriate if we come looking ourselves like beggars because that is who we are begging the Lord to heal our soul for the paralysis of sins. We know our own frailties in our relationship to others and to God. We know how much we’ve hurt ourselves and others by the things we’ve done. We know how we’ve taken advantage of other people, manipulated other people, tried to control the lives of other people. We know there are people who have been lonely for a long time because we haven’t been there and we could have been there. We know there is so much that brings us into that circle of the guilty and for which we are deserving of condemnation. That is why, if we are honest about it, we come here to accept, as humble beggars, the forgiveness and the opportunity for new life that is available to us only through the merits of the Christ in the Sacrament of Confession.

On my weekly experience conducting the Sacrament of Penance at Greenbelt Chapel, I could feel the penitents’ sincere motivation seeking for God’s grace and healing and a grateful wonder of God’s merciful love about their past wrongdoings. And it’s because of the authority vested upon me, as priest, I could say to the penitent: "Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace." As to what the CCC no.986 says: "By Christ´s will, the Church possesses the power to forgive the sins of the baptized and exercises it through bishops and priests normally in the sacrament of Penance."

As we hear and reflect the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel new life begins for us when He heals a paralyzed man saying: "That you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, I command you: Stand up! Pick up your mat and go home" (Mk.2;10-11). Then we rise and move into the glory of repentance. However, many of our brothers and sisters don’t like to hear that word because it means that we’ve got to change our way of living. But it’s an assuring glorious word because it opens the door to wholeness of life. We hear then from the word of the Old Testament prophets: "Repent!" The word of John the Baptist is "Repent!" And the first word of instruction in the preaching of our Lord Jesus is "Repent!" If we repent of our paralysis of sin we obtain a good feeling. And that feeling of regret, of remorse, of repentance opens the door to all kinds of new possibilities and new beginnings as a healed person. And we will be able to say to God: "Yes, I want my life back again clean and fresh. I want this new opportunity to be a witness to Your saving Grace for you healed my soul, Lord. Yes, I want to change."

 [Fr Mars Rosales, MSP
  MSP Central House, Makati City]


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