Friday, November 20, 2009

That's What It Is Like . . .

Have you ever thought about how quick God is to forgive us?

The woman caught in sin . . . Jesus stood in the gap. He told her accusers to cast the first stone if they were without sin. Then, Our Lord forgave the woman and told her to go and sin no more.

The thief on the cross . . . Jesus turned to him the moment this sinner spoke words of contrition and acknowledged his sin. Today, Jesus said, you will be with me in Paradise.

The woman in the confessional . . . Jesus listens patiently, offers words of help and discernment, and immediately says, I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

In today's morning prayers, we are instructed to forgive others as readily as Christ has forgiven us.

Do you feel a groan well up in your spirit? Not a groan like the teenager gives his mother when she tells him to take out the trash.
But the kind of groan an athlete makes when the coach instructs him to do something he just doesn't believe he can do -- having never quite done it successfully in the past -- wanting to please, yet completely aware of his own weaknesses.

Yes, that's what it's like.

But then, the athlete submits and says, okay, I'll try.

And this time, when he tries and succeeds, the moment is very satisfying, because he knows, if he turns around and looks at the coach, the coach will still have his eyes on him, having seen the whole thing. And the young athlete knows that the coach will be smiling . . .

And that, too, is what it's like. Jesus forgives us the moment we confess with true contrition. He asks us to be willing to do the same with one another. I groan because I just don't think I'm capable of that kind of heroic virtue. Jesus knows that I can do it. Okay, I'll try.
And that's the moment of grace. That's the moment when we sail over the bar that seemed far too high. That's the moment we hear the Master say Well done.


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