Dear Friends of the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
“Peace be to you.” As today’s Gospel recounts, these are the first words our Lord spoke to His disciples when He appeared to them in the Upper Room after His Resurrection. Yet, as we know, our Lord does not give peace as the world understands this term. “My peace I leave unto you: not as the world gives, do I give to you” (Jn. 14:27). The Apostles went on to experience persecution and even martyrdom. Where is the peace promised by our Lord? It was in their hearts and souls. They rejoiced because they had seen Him Risen from the dead, yes; but more importantly we can now experience true joy and peace because man is reconciled to God. Sin, which had closed the gates of heaven is conquered. The disciples were reconciled to God. The received the peace of God into their hearts with sanctifying grace, and as long as they persevered in the state of grace, they kept the peace of Christ in their hearts.
Christ knew however that all too many of His followers would not persevere in His peace. How often, have we squandered His grace and fallen into mortal sin? In His Infinite Mercy He has given a sacrament to forgive sins. This is also recounted in today’s Gospel when our Lord says to His apostles: “Receive the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them” (Jn. 20:22-23).
Many heretics, especially Protestants, have fallen into the same error as the scribes and pharisees: “who can forgive sin but God alone?” (Lk. 5:21) Who indeed? Yet, if we believe that God is God, we must believe that He is all-powerful. If He is all-powerful, He can certainly delegate His power of forgiving sins to those He wills. This is exactly what we see in today’s Gospel: Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given the ultimate proof of His own Divinity in rising from the dead gives to his apostles, and their successors, the power to forgive sins in His name. This the priest does in the Sacrament of Penance.
Let us make good use of this Sacrament. At this time of crisis it is one of the only sacraments we still have access to. Let us not forget to pray for Christians around the world who cannot confess. Let us pray for poor sinners who do not want to confess their sins. Yes confession is humiliating, and can be difficult. Yet we have a great helper in our Blessed Mother. She stood at the cross where a sword of sorrow pierced her heart. She does not want her Son’s sufferings to be in vain. She does not want her own sufferings to be in vain. She, the loving Mother that she is will lead us to her Son, and help us confess our sins if we but ask her.
O Mary Refuge of Sinners, Pray for us!
Wishing you a blessed week,