Speak Lord: Forgiveness

DSC03418 Nazareth 2017.jpg

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Happy the man whose offence is forgiven,
whose sin is remitted.
O happy the man to whom the Lord
imputes no guilt,
in whose spirit is no guile.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

But now I have acknowledged my sins;
my guilt I did not hide.
I said: ‘I will confess
my offence to the Lord.’
And you, Lord, have forgiven
the guilt of my sin.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord,
exult, you just!
O come, ring out your joy,
all you upright of heart.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Responsorial Psalm for Sunday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time
Psalm 31:1-2,5,11

The Lord forgives and we prize him for his mercy.

We too are called to be merciful in imitation of him, extending the opportunity for repentance and healing to others. By our patience and our generosity, we have the opportunity to allow other people to grow… and to share with them the kingdom of heaven.

‘Those whose sins you forgive they are forgiven’. Basilica of the Annunication, Nazareth. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Over-reaching sin

Skyscraper Philadelphia

The Psalm on Sunday, the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, is a humble confession of sin, and and of thanks to the Lord:

Forgive, Lord, the guilt of my sin.

Happy the man whose offence is forgiven,
whose sin is remitted.
O happy the man to whom the Lord
imputes no guilt,
in whose spirit is no guile.

Forgive, Lord, the guilt of my sin.

But now I have acknowledged my sins;
my guilt I did not hide.
I said: ‘I will confess
my offence to the Lord.’
And you, Lord, have forgiven
the guilt of my sin.

Forgive, Lord, the guilt of my sin.

You are my hiding place, O Lord;
you save me from distress.
You surround me with cries of deliverance.

Forgive, Lord, the guilt of my sin.

Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord,
exult, you just!
O come, ring out your joy,
all you upright of heart.

Forgive, Lord, the guilt of my sin.

Psalm 31:1-2,5,7,11

We are sinners, and the failures of the past and present are indeed ours. But we are also loved, the beloved, of God. In this we find our identity, sinners saved.

  • For what do you give thanks?
  • How do you live your thanks?

Skyscrapers, Philadelphia. (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: source of joy

Penance Rome

Praying the Responsorial Psalm tomorrow, Sunday, the 11th Sunday in Ordinary time, draws us toward a fresh knowledge of our sins and their consequences, and the glory of life redeemed.

Forgive, Lord, the guilt of my sin. 

Happy the man whose offence is forgiven,
whose sin is remitted.
O happy the man to whom the Lord
imputes no guilt,
in whose spirit is no guile.

But now I have acknowledged my sins;
my guilt I did not hide.
I said: ‘I will confess
my offence to the Lord.’
And you, Lord, have forgiven
the guilt of my sin.

You are my hiding place, O Lord;
you save me from distress.
You surround me with cries of deliverance.

Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord,
exult, you just!
O come, ring out your joy,
all you upright of heart.

Psalm 31:1-2,5,7,11

The movement from the heaviness and incumbrance of sin and guilt to joy and life is ours because of God’s mercy and love. When we remain mindful of that we live in joy – even if we live still with trial and tribulation. But if we forget and ‘just’ live, turned in on ourselves, life and liveliness drains from us.

Life comes as gift; joy when we embrace its giver.

  • When did you last celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and why?
  • When will you next celebrate the Sacrament?
  • How does it help you in your Christian vocation?

In the Year of Mercy there is especial encouragement for us to recover a sense of appreciation for the Sacrament as assurance, a  ministry which helps us receive and benefit from the healing mercy. Why not combine your next celebration of the Sacrament with a visit to a Holy year pilgrimage site and with a Year of Mercy Door.

Detail of the Sacraments Door, St Peter’s Basilica, Rome. (c) Allen Morris, 2016.

Speak Lord: Of Peace and Forgiveness

Confessional, Jesuit church, Cracow

The Gospel for today, the feast of Pentecost, takes us back 50 days to the first Easter day and a first conferral of the Holy Spirit.

In the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.

‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’

John 20:19-23

The power bestowed on the disciples is remarkable. It is they who have power to forgive sins or retain them. Jesus was criticised for his forgiveness of sins, now he extends that power to his disciples.

It is an awesome responsibility. For, of course, no pettiness or narrowness of view ought to intrude, The Son forgives because the Father is merciful and calling all to conversion and renewal. So too with those who minister in his name: as Jesus forgives, so the Church…

Photograph of Confessional in the Jesuit church, Cracow. (C) 2013, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: ring out good news of God’s love

The Church rings out, AssisiThe first reading on Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Easter, comes from the Easter book, the Acts of the Apostles.

 Peter said to the people: ‘You are Israelites, and it is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, who has glorified his servant Jesus, the same Jesus you handed over and then disowned in the presence of Pilate after Pilate had decided to release him. It was you who accused the Holy One, the Just One, you who demanded the reprieve of a murderer while you killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead, and to that fact we are the witnesses.

‘Now I know, brothers, that neither you nor your leaders had any idea what you were really doing; this was the way God carried out what he had foretold, when he said through all his prophets that his Christ would suffer. Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.’

Acts 3:13-15,17-19

In the years since, we have become very used to the distinction between Jew and Christian, a distinction sometimes enforced with horrifying results.

In this passage Peter speaks to his own people, his own generation: a Jew who believes in the Resurrection of Jesus to those who do not; and he speaks to. He places the greater blame on the leadership – always something quite easy to do.

But all are called to repentance, to turn from what is false and destructive and back to what is true and good and healing.

That call is extended to all in our age, leaders and led, those who think themselves in the right, and those who fear that that they may be in the wrong.

God’s love is for all.

  • What sins in yourself do you wish to have wiped away? What step to God might you take that can assist in this?
  • What sins in others do you think they should repent of? What steps might you take that would make it easier for them to repent?

Photograph of Jubilee Bell, Assisi. (c) Allen Morris, 2014.