Penance And Peace

Penance And Peace

“Give peace, O Lord, to those who wait for Thee”. So we sing in today’s introit. Waiting for the Lord, hoping in His aid, trusting that He will provide us with all that is needed for our salvation. The Gospel helps us understand what the most important ingredient of peace is: the forgiveness of sins.

The poor paralytic could not move, just as the sinner cannot move spiritually. Stuck in his bad habits, half-dead, unable to go to Jesus, he is totally helpless, he can do nothing for himself. ‘“Without Thee, we cannot please Thee”, we say in the collect of the Mass. Without God’s grace, the sinner cannot take the first step to conversion. Thank God, some kind soul brings him to Jesus. “Have confidence, son, your sins are forgiven”. Have confidence, for you will find peace when you have found forgiveness. St Paul says as much when he writes to the Ephesians that “Christ is our peace”. Is this not the reason for which on Easter Sunday evening, the first words Our Lord addresses to His apostles is: “Peace be to you”, before giving them the power to forgive sins.

Interestingly today’s Gospel ends with the crowds giving praise to God for having given “such power to men” — not only to Jesus, but to “men” in the plural. The text is alluded to in the section of the Catechism explaining the sacrament of penance. In His amazing kindness, God not only offers the forgiveness of sins through His Son, but He also shares that power with other men who take part in His saving mission through the sacrament of Holy Orders. In this way, all of the faithful can hear the words of forgiveness and healing pronounced over them: “Your sins are forgiven”.

With the forgiveness of sins and the peace that comes with it, the faithful soul also receives all the spiritual treasures of the Church. With sanctifying grace come the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit: “we are made rich”, St Paul tells us in today’s epistle. And the Secret prayer at the offertory reminds us that through the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we are made — o marvel of marvels! — “partakers of the one most High Divinity”.

Let us pray, then, that more and more souls in the spiritual desert of the modern world, may be brought to Jesus, that they may be healed of their spiritual paralysis and sins, and find peace and joy in all the treasures of our holy faith, especially the treasure of the Love of God and neighbour which makes for a joyful life on this earth and eternal beatitude in the next.