We should all have regrets

Tom Bartolomeo
12th Sunday Ordinary C 2013
Zechariah 12: 10-11, 13:1; Psalm 63;
Galatians 3, 26-29; Luke 9, 18-24
Reproduced with Permission

Every sentence, every book of the Bible speaks of Jesus Christ as did the prophet Zechariah in the Book with his name. The more we hear the word of God the more we hear the suffering of Christ. Who and what was the prophet speaking of when he said:

Thus says the Lord: I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition; they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a firstborn.

What a moving image -- a parent mourning the death of his only child. Here, he was the Son of God. The Jews, we know, were complicit in the death of Jesus, not just the only Son of God but the universal Son of all of mankind. "Crucify, crucify him", they shouted at the urging of his enemies who brought Jesus to Pilate and unwittingly had killed the Messiah whom they had longed for so many generations. How Jesus magnanimously acknowledged their ignorance while writhing in pain on the cross, "Father, forgive them. They know not what they do." They were the same people at Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus' resurrection, who had heard the commotion of the Apostles at the coming of the Holy Spirit when Peter confronted the Jews, reminding them what King David had prophesied, that their Messiah would rise from the dead whom "God had made [the] Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified,"he told them. When they had heard this" as recorded in The Acts of the Apostles "they were", we are told, "cut to the heart . . . and said to Peter, 'Brothers, what shall we do'. Peter told them, 'Repent'." ( cf. Acts 2). More than 3,000 Jews 'on that day' were baptized. They suspected then that the rumors were true, that the guards who were on watch at Jesus' tomb were paid off for their silence about Jesus' resurrection by the rulers of the Jews. (cf. Matthew 28). "On that day", we were told by Zechariah, "there shall be open to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness". ( Zechariah 13,1). Their regrets, contrition and God's forgiveness "on that day" gave birth to the church and these Jews became the Apostles first converts. Peter did not rebuke them out of hatred but out of love as Jesus had once rebuked Peter for denying that the Christ must die. Had the Jews earlier accepted Jesus as their Messiah they would not have crucified Jesus, but Christ had to be crucified for their salvation and they had to admit that they had sinned if they were to be saved.

We should all realize that we are all sinners even the saints among us. We are children of Adam and Eve infected by contact with Satan. When Jesus taught his disciples the Lord's Prayer he was the only completely innocent man who ever prayed "Our Father" and who clothed himself in our degraded humanity. Jesus did not pray, 'My Father' but "Our Father." Do we understand how profound an action that was, Christ personally accepting our sins as his own? We have as well another problem with the Lord's Prayer. We should know, with our pledge to God, swearing,"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Or do not forgive us our trespasses as we do not forgive those who trespass against us. That may be the key for many which opens the door to heaven. How could we live in Jesus' company in the kingdom of heaven without first forgiving the sins of others in heaven who have forgiven us?

Sin is an interior disposition of the will, and only God knows our hearts and wills. It is not about justice. If it were about justice Jesus wouldn't have died for our offenses. We can not impugn the motives of others, only by observation. All moral judgment is prejudicial except in the confessional. A priest wouldn't dare forgive the sins of others without Christ's commission, "whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them. And whose sins you shall retain they shall be retained" which power Jesus gave his Apostles on the day of his resurrection. I am personally grateful that another priest "in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" can forgive me my sins. We priests need to go to confession just as you do. What prevents many from admitting their sins is their judgment. When we are injured by someone and assume that we know his motive we may believe that we are justified in our anger and resentment which can only poison ourselves, a self-inflicted wound. Rash judgment may be the most insidious of human failings. When Jesus gave his long sermon on the mount which included the Beatitudes, voluntary poverty, meekness, suffering, justice, mercy, purity, peace and patience in persecution "for . . . the kingdom of Heaven"Jesus also advised , "Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get." (cf .Matthew 5-7).

Personal moral judgment is the seed bed of sin which the "father of lies", Satan, cultivated with Adam and Eve. Satan even lies to himself. He thinks he is happier in hell than in heaven. Our anger or displeasure with others may not be with them directly but with someone or something else, some injury perhaps buried in our past. Penance is more than a sacrament of forgiveness, but a sacrament of healing. Absolution from sin in the sacrament brings healing through self accusation. That's how it works. Nothing to regret than the Sacrament of Penance is effectively irrelevant. A matter we should examine if we go long periods without the healing remedy of confession. Of all the sacraments it requires no formality, only humble sincerity. It even takes precedence over our personal participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass when such healing is required as expressed in Psalm fifty-one:

I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51, 13-18) God can mend a broken heart.