“Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful” (Joel2:12-13). This was the invitation of the Church, on Ash Wednesday when we began the season lent. Now as we are coming to the conclusion of lent and preparing to celebrate the feast of Easter, it is good to reflect on our response to this invitation.
Yet Even Now… refers not only our delay in returning to the Lord, but also the distance we might have gone away from God and his teachings. But then we are told, that no matter how long we remained away from God, or how far we have gone away from him, still God invites us and he waits for our return. It is this message which Jesus wanted to give us, when he told us the parable of the prodigal son and his loving father (Lk 15:11-32).
To return to the Lord we need to realize that we have really gone far away from God and his plan for us. We read in the story of the prodigal son, that it was when he came to his senses, he realized the miserable situation in which he has ended himself, as a result of going away from his father. Pope John Paul II said, many people in our time are losing even the sense of sin. Pope Francis tell us; We should ask the grace of not taking sin lightly. Taking sin lightly will cause sin takes its root in our heart. It will harden the heart and make it iniquitous. The consequence of sin is human misery and bondage as exemplified in the pitiable situation in which the prodigal son ended himself.
If people are losing the sense of sin, it is because people are losing the sense of God in their life. The closer we come to God, who is the Light, the clearer our dark sides come to light. Mother Teresa once said; “Some saints described themselves as terrible criminals because they saw God, they saw themselves and they saw the difference.” God’s light and grace as manifested in the Words of Jesus and in the sacraments help us to recognize those hidden areas and corrects the deformation of our vision.
The means for us to return to the Lord is the “Sacrament of Reconciliation,” which comes from a Latin verb meaning “to bring together or to restore.” St. Francis De Sales wrote:
“God esteems repentance so highly that the slightest repentance in the world as long it is genuine, causes God to forget any kind of sin, so that even the devil would have all their sins forgiven, if only they could have remorse.”
The parable of prodigal son beautifully expresses what happens in the sacrament of confession:
“And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your Son.” But the father said to his servants, “Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hands, and shoes on his feet” (Lk15:21-23).
About the Author:
Fr. Binoy Puthusery, C.M. is a Vincentian priest belonging to the Southern Indian Province. He was ordained as priest on December 27, 2008 and soon after served as an assistant parish priest in Tanzania. In 2011, after two years of ministry, he was appointed as Spiritual Director to the Vincentian Sisters of Mercy, Mbinga Tanzania, where he still is today.