Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

The Scandal of Amazing Grace

This week at my parish, Fr. Larry Richards is leading our mission. The week has been filled with so many graces it has been overwhelming. For all of his missions, Wednesday is dedicated to the Passion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ…Blessed be His Name! In tandem with the evening’s presentation, confession is offered to all those present.

Last night I watched a scandalous event take place. Before you panic, no worries, Fr. Larry was fantastic and there was nothing improper. So, the question is, “What was so scandalous?” I am so glad you asked!

I watched a teen non-Catholic young lady  stand in a long confession line for an hour and a half to confess her sins. All the while, knowing full well that absolution was not likely to be offered since she is not Catholic. Watching her was amazing. She approached with a yearning confidence somehow recognizing that our Lord had empowered the priest to absolve her of her sins.

I have no idea what she was thinking. I have no clue whether a grace-filled indult was granted and absolution extended. I have no idea whether the heroic exterior was a mask for a trembling conscience. I do not even know if she smiled afterward with some consolation. What I do know is that she did what many Catholics take for granted or refuse to do. And here my friends is the scandal.

The scandal is not that the confession lines are short while a non-Catholic is willing to stand waiting for an hour for her confession to be heard. It is not even the fact that many of us trust in the ritual instead of the Father’s love, mercy and grace that our Lord wants to give. The scandal is she had the courage to look directly into the face of the redeemer, face her faults and sins with a maturity that few adults dare to dream of. The scandal is that we are comfortable where we are in our spiritual life while she who is uncatechized said to our Lord, “I thirst.”

How do we ante up? We first commit to scrutiny. Most think that it is the job of the priest or preacher to address the sin in our lives. But this is not true. It is actually more the responsibility of the family and community. Now, the natural response is that we tell our family or friends to stop judging us or to look at themselves. St. John of the Cross says that the rebuttal against judging is the primary sign of pride. St. Thomas explains that telling the other to look at themselves is sure evidence of vanity. We need repent for rejecting the grace of repentance poured out by the Holy Spirit for our salvation and holiness.

Secondly, we need to stop looking at just the top ten. Many of us think we are doing great by avoiding the top ten while embracing the culture lock, stock and barrel. Yep, that’s right. We need to judge (which means to decide by the way God measures) what we listen to, the activities we choose to partake in and our integrity at work. EVERYTHING is free game before the Lord.

This should not overwhelm us but cause us to give thanks to God for His gracious mercy while desiring to fill ALL of our life with His holiness. Tonight my family and I are back at the mission. My prayer for myself and my family is that the Holy Spirit has its way with us and to not allow us to get away with just listening to a mission. We want to be a scandelon too but for the glory of His Name and mercy.

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and faithfulness! Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases. (Psalm 115:1-3)

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