One of the unmistakable themes of the papacy of Pope Francis thus far is mercy, begging men and women to go to God and ask Him for His mercy again and again. So much so that the predominant rumor is that Popes John XXIII and John Paul will be canonized on Divine Mercy Sunday, which Pope John Paul II instituted. In rereading a book-length interview Pope Francis participated in while cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, I happened upon Cardinal Bergoglio talking about the beauty of knowing you’re a sinner: “For me, feeling you have sinned is one of the most beautiful things that can happen to a person, if you take it to its ultimate end.”
Saint Augustine, speaking of redemption, and seeing the sin of Adam and Eve and the passion and resurrection of Jesus, said, “Good is the sin that made us worthy of such redemption. This is what we sing on Easter night: ‘Good guilt, good sin.’
When someone realizes he is a sinner and is saved by Jesus, he admits that truth to himself and discovers the hidden pearl, the buried treasure. He discovers how great life is; that there is someone who loves him so deeply that He gave His life for him.
There are some who feel righteous, who in some way accept the catechism, the Christian faith, but do not have the experience of having been saved. It is one thing for someone to tell you about a boy who was drowning in the river and someone diving in to save him; it is another to see it, and yet another if it’s me who is drowning and someone dives in to save me. There are those who have been told this but did not see it, didn’t want to see it, or didn’t want to know what happened to that boy, who always had ways of avoiding the sense of drowning and, therefore, the experience of knowing what it is. I believe that only the greatest sinners have that grace. I often say that the only glory we have, as Saint Paul says, is that of being sinners.
We have a Savior. He holds out his hand so that we will not perish.