Sunday, February 26, 2012
I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:30-32)
A year and a half ago I was sitting in a Providence Church before Mass. A women entered and asked if she could sit next to me. She was unsteady on her feet and had braces attached to both arms that helped her walk. As I have a problem myself that I dislocate joints if I am bumped I was a bit nervous to have her sit next to me but said yes to her request. We began to speak and she shared with me that she has had cerebral palsy since birth. She was rather young maybe in her early forties and she had been brought from a local nursing home for Mass. In her teens she shared with me she did something to which she was ashamed. She had an incestuous relationship and gave birth to a daughter. Since that time she felt she had much to repent for.
I was aware that this church had perpetual adoration. She humbly shared with me that she was instrumental in getting the 24 adoration started. She did this by living at the church for 2 years. Sometimes going to the lower level to rest but otherwise stayed at the church round the clock. I asked what she ate and she replied only the Eucharist. I had never heard of anyone living solely on the Eucharist but there was no doubt in my mind that what she was telling me was the truth. I also asked her how she dealt with bathing. She replied she really didn’t beside using the rest room. Her appearance was a bit rough so this too I could believe. There was another disabled women not far from where we were sitting who asked this women to stop talking to me. I could see that the women knew my new friend and the way that she was spoken to allowed me to see this friend of mine was no stranger to humility. She had many scapulars on and had holy oil which she regularly placed on herself. She had a joy about her despite her rather stark existence of living in a nursing home at such a young age.
When the Mass began several priests processed in to an inspired choir with many musical instruments accompanying them. When the priests reached the alter they turned to the tabernacle behind them and looked up at a large crucifix. They began clapping. Those in their seats began clapping and the floor was almost shaking as the whole Church was full of song and clapping. We all were facing the crucifix. It was so emotional that for a moment the joy of the event felt as if I was in heaven. The reverence and joy in this Parish lifted me up. Surely Mary and her Son were smiling that evening.
The evening ended and I am embarrassed to say I don’t know this women’s name who was sitting next to me. I am also embarrassed that I did not help her find her ride as I was rushing out to meet my husband and begin a rather long drive. This is something I think back on often. I wished I had taken the time to help her and get her contact information. Meeting this women was a gift from the Lord. It allowed me to see that one person can change a whole Parish. The Spirit was alive in that Parish. This women and my experiences at this Parish exemplify the Gospels from yesterday and today. Yesterday, Mark speaks of Jesus in the Desert for forty days when he leaves and resumes preaching He says, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel."(Mark 1:15) Mark in his brevity of words uses the word repent. Therefore it must be extremely important. We all have sinned, some more than others. Often those who have the most grievous sins are just the people the Lord chooses to work through. Luke in his gospel from today echoes this, the Pharisees and their scribes murmured against his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" And Jesus answered them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:30-32)
Jesus also tells St. Faustina that sinners have first access to His mercy. Paul, Matthew, and Mary Magdalene are perfect examples of those with serious sins who the Lord calls to witness to others.
Lord may the children’s rosary and all associated with us experience true repentance for our sins this Lent and through our lives witness Your Love. Amen