CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 22 September 2018

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A message from the Catholic Church Lenten Campaign – Fourth Week

Confession and repentance by the grace of God

 

Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one
of your hired servants -
(Luke 15:18-19)

 

When we sin, we are like the lost prodigal son in the gospel of St. Luke. He leaves his father’s estate, turns his back on his everlasting love and squanders his inheritance to the point he is forced to degrade and devalue his self-worth.

To sin is to leave our heavenly Father, to suffer by leading a life of decadence. The concept of sin is inseparable from our faith in the Lord: we can only understand what it means if we believe and comprehend our heavenly Father’s love, greatness and purity.

“Heaven and humanity in one” is the ultimate hope Our Lord has in store for us. People are called to follow God’s plan and become an integral part of the eternal kingdom.

Sin, however, destroys this harmony and integrity, leading us away from our Father.

The Second Vatican Council points out, “Sin suppresses human dignity and hinders full human development” (Pastoral Constitution on The Church in the Modern World #13).

However, the power of sin is not absolute, as repentance and conversion is God’s gift to us and enables reconciliation with him. God demands a response from us—a genuine change of heart and true repentance. This is the contrast between the first son in the parable, who remained with the father, and the lost son.

Consider the confession and repentance of the lost son! That was true remorse, sorrow for weakness and error. The parable is a call from our heavenly Father made out of love to all who are engulfed in their sins to come back to him and share his sacred life.

Our heavenly Father showers us with the love of a devoted father. He makes us his children who may share a rich and happy life with him.

If we repent, convert and are reconciled with our heavenly Father, then “Heaven and humanity” will be one. 

On the other hand, the self-righteousness of the first son typifies the Nulla poena sine lege (no penalty without a law) of the Pharisees, thinking he could win his father’s love and devotion through his achievements.

He does not know that God’s love is not a transaction, or a reward for good behaviour, but something divine and unconditional. This love is the basis of God’s grace.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). So who can boast they haven’t sinned? It is precisely the first son’s self-righteousness that places a bargaining barrier between him and his father, preventing him from basking in the joy and happiness of his father’s love.

His self-righteousness robs him of compassion for his own sibling, traps him in anger and hatred, blocking him from being reconciled with anyone. So, is self-righteousness a sin?

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).

Our heavenly Father has bestowed his gracious love on us. He is waiting patiently for sinners to repent and is willing to forgive. We must answer God’s call, confess our sins and start afresh. Only by doing so, can we be reconciled with our heavenly Father and join him in the feast of eternal happiness.

 

 

Lenten Campaign Organising Committee, 2016