- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

January 27, 2018

Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO

3rd Friday in Ordinary Time

If ever there was a gospel before the Gospel, it’s in the brief dialogue in today’s first reading. First verse: “David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord’”. Next verse: “Nathan answered David: ‘The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin’”. That’s all it takes. Whenever we sin, even if it’s as badly as David sinned, we have only to say the word from our heart, and hate the wrong we have done, and the Lord comes with the whole fullness of his Fatherly and forgiven love into our broken heart.

It can be hard for us to believe that the Lord is really like that. One of the monks of the Egyptian desert came up to Abba Poemen and said to him, “If I fall into a shameful sin, my conscience devours and accuses me saying: ‘Why have you fallen?” The old man said to him, ‘At the moment when a person goes astray, if he says, I have sinned, immediately the sin ceases’”.

If we still find this hard to accept, the Lord asks us in today’s Gospel, “Do you not yet have faith?” He whom the wind and the sea obey “can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine”. No sin is so great but that, coming straight from it, a repentant sinner may hope and believe that all God’s love will be lavished upon him. David’s penitence should lead us on to David’s hope, and David’s hope to a prayer that David could never dream of: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now”.

No sin, however dark, however repeated, should drive us to despair of ourselves, as if it alone could hide us from the power of a loving God, when even the wind and the sea could not. “Never”, says our father St Benedict in the very last of his instruments of good works, “never lose hope in God’s mercy”.

So whatever your evil behavior, come with it all, and cast yourself before Jesus, in whom we have redemption through his Blood, the forgiveness of our sins. He said as much at the Last Supper: “This is the chalice of my Blood, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins”.

Nathan your conscience may say to you, “You are the one”, because you are no better than David. But “God is greater than your conscience”, and if you respond as David did, then “you are the one” Christ referred to when he said, “If anyone thirsts, come to me and drink”; come to the Lamb of God, “who takes away the sins of the world”. And you will experience in your soul what the Church says aloud to everyone who receives communion in the Byzantine rite: “The servant of God receives the precious and holy Body and Blood of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of sins, and for eternal life”.