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GOD FORGIVES AND FORGETS OUR SINS

Father Francis's picture
Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Eccles. 47:2-11. & Mk. 6:14-29

The book of Ecclesiasticus was written many centuries after the death of King David. It looked back upon his life in much the same way as do with our national heroes, such as Nelson and Churchill, whose virtues we remember while forgetting or ignoring their faults. The author recalled David's considerable faults with only a fleeting reference.

Strangely enough the author's attitude about David's sins is not different from that of God. Our heavenly Father does not brood over our sins. When He forgives, He forgives completely. In the sacrament of Penance, speaking through the person of the priest, God declares, "I absolve you from your sins." Some have suggested that the word "absolve" should be changed to "forgive.” But is that a good idea? "Absolve" is an unusual word, one we do not use every day, and God's forgiveness is unusual. It is indeed an absolution.

"To absolve" literally means to set free, or release, as from some obligation. There is a certain ring of finality to the word "absolve" because of its relationship to the word "absolute" - which means perfect, complete, certain. When we are truly sorry for our sins and confess them, God does not forgive us as we so often forgive others, grudgingly and partially. He never says what we sometimes might, 'I forgive but I just cannot forget'.

Having absolved us from our sins, God like the author of Ecclesiasticus whom He inspired to write about David, recalls only our virtues and the good we have done. Let us ask God today to help us forgive as He does.

John the Baptist was a man with a mission. His whole life was completely absorbed around the person of Jesus Christ, his vocation in life being to point Him out to others. In fact, it is hard to think of John the Baptist without thinking of Jesus and how much would we like that to be said, about ourselves?

But sadly there are some people who point to where John the Baptist's unselfish life led him. For it ended in tragedy. It was brought to a miserable end by the weakness of a petty ruler, the pawn of an unscrupulous and evil wife, who allowed himself to become trapped by the lewdness of a dancing girl. How could the great herald of the Lord become the victim of such small people? The truth is that even an heroic life can be caught up in the trivia of human existence.

We have all been called to be disciples of Jesus Christ. This calling is a great privilege but we should not allow a false romanticism to obscure our vision of reality. For the most part our lives are ordinary and humdrum. But unselfish love, the hallmark of John the Baptist, must also be the hallmark of those who wish to be Christ's disciples. Our lives may never be as heroic as that of John the Baptist, but they can be very worthwhile if they are pleasing to God our Father.

Lord Jesus, like John the Baptist, may we live only for You and may nothing come between You and us.

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