That the world may be saved

That the world may be saved June 10, 2024

Imagine a group of boys playing soccer in the neighborhood.  One of them kicks the ball, and the next thing you hear is broken glass.  An upset mother walks out the front door after thirty seconds fuming, going toward the boys who are standing there stunned, silent, because they had been told to play in the park, and not near the houses.  The mom, visibly upset asks, “who did this? Who broke the window?”  The boys just look at each other, not wanting to say.  Eventually one of them points at the culprit.  They all get punished.

Isn’t this the same thing that happens in the Book of Genesis, the passage we just heard proclaimed?  Adam and Eve are told not to eat from the tree, they do, God approaches and they are acting all strange, even God notices it.  Eventually Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the serpent, and in the end, everyone gets punished.

This my friends, is the description of what the Church calls Original Sin.  It’s not one particular sin we may have committed, but it’s our human inclination to disobey, to stray from what is right and true.  It describes an inner disposition, which Saint Paul quite accurately described when he wrote, “we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

When I was in catechism for my first communion, I remember this point was made quite clear to us by our teacher: we are sinners, and my relationship with God is broken.  However, what was not very much emphasized was the Good News of the Gospel!

We heard from Saint Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians:

“The one who raised the Lord Jesus, will raise us also with Jesus, and place us in his presence.  Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people, may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.  Therefore, we are not discouraged, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”

This is the heart of the Good News: though we are sinners, God has sent Jesus his Son to bring reconciliation.  We can face each day with hope and encouragement, because despite our struggles, we have a God who longs to be with us.

Jesus says in the Gospel, “all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them.”  No matter how far we have strayed, no matter how guilty we may be, no matter how heavy our consciences may be, Jesus always extends a hand for us to be reconciled.

Jesus does say that “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”  What does this mean?

The Holy Spirit has been sent for us to experience forgiveness.  The unforgivable sin is either to believe that my sin is unforgivable, or that I don’t believe I need forgiveness.

If I don’t believe that I can be forgiven, or that I have no need to be forgiven, then we do not allow God to do what he does best: to grant forgiveness.

This echoes the passage from Scripture when Jesus went to Nazareth and was unable to perform miracles because the people lacked faith, and their lack of faith did not permit Jesus to work great deeds.  Likewise with us, if we think we are unforgivable or don’t need forgiveness, we prevent God from doing his work in us.

As a priest, I have heard many people say both, “what I have done is unforgivable” and “I don’t need to ask for forgiveness.”  Pope Francis reminds us of the right way to think: “God never tires of forgiving us, it is us who get tired of asking for forgiveness.”

God does not want souls to be lost, he wants us to be saved.  Saint John reminds us in his Gospel, “for God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

Pope Francis in 2017 reminded us that “Christians have good reason to be joyful and should let it shine in their faces rather than sport sad, pessimistic looks. The root of Christian joy lies in the fact that Christians are forgiven and redeemed.  If you have a face of a funeral wake, how can they believe that you are redeemed, that your sins have been forgiven?”

We pray today, that we may be people who have experienced the saving power of Jesus.  May we live filled with hope for tomorrow, because in Christ we always have a new opportunity to get things right with God.  May we rejoice that Jesus has come into the world to bring salvation.

Picture from public domain.

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