April 2, 2019 – “…My Son saw beauty in all things. He seeks the good in all souls-even that which is little and hidden-so as to forgive evil. Therefore, my children, apostles of my love, I am calling you to adore Him, to ceaselessly give Him thanks, and to be worthy…”
Can you believe tomorrow is already Palm Sunday? Time sure does fly, and here we are at the door of Holy Week!
I’ve been contemplating this part of Our Lady’s recent message posted above. It’s really such a beautiful and sweet glimpse into the heart of her Son, and also a needed reminder of His great love and mercy. Some of us can feel like Jesus is a strict judge, looking for even the slightest trace of impurity or imperfection in order to punish us. And while, yes, Jesus is a just and righteous Judge, He is merciful first and His mercy is liberal beyond measure. It wasn’t until I decided to live my faith seriously did I finally understand and experience this simple truth: Jesus’ love is constantly waiting for us, and He is always ready to forgive us no matter what. With Jesus, no matter your past, you can always start over.
Jesus once said to St. Faustina, “Before I come as the Just Judge, I am coming first as the King of Mercy.” We are not left without a chance at redemption; while alive and even up to our last moments, we are being offered countless opportunities for forgiveness and grace. Our Blessed Lord was sent by the Father to save us, not to destroy us. His love and desire to save us is so immense, He gave His life on the Cross for us so that we can live free from the slavery of sin.
In her diary, St. Faustina shares one encounter with Jesus where He speaks about His mercy:
But God has promised a great grace especially to you and all those… who will proclaim My great mercy. I shall protect them Myself at the hour of death, as My own glory. And even if the sins of the souls were as dark as night, when the sinner turns to My mercy, he gives Me greatest praise and is the glory of My Passion. When a soul extols My goodness, Satan trembles before it and flees to the very bottom of hell.
During one of the adorations, Jesus promised me that: With souls that have recourse to My mercy and with those that glorify and proclaim My great mercy to others, I will deal according to My infinite mercy at the hour of their death.
My Heart is sorrowful, Jesus said, because even chosen souls do not understand the greatness of My mercy. Their relationship [with Me] is, in certain ways, imbued with mistrust. Oh, how much that wounds My Heart! Remember My Passion, and if you do not believe My words, at least believe My wounds. [378-379]
We, as humans, are constantly judging. Not just others, but ourselves also. But it is only Christ Who knows hearts better than ourselves, or anyone. He sees the depths of our entire being, and sees the little and hidden goodness within us; a merciful deed to a stranger, forgiving a small debt from a friend or relative, showing kindness to a child or an elderly person, a deep yearning for God that is yet unspoken. Jesus searches for such things, and it is there where He meets us, and introduces Himself to us.
I also love how Our Lady says, “My Son saw beauty in all things.” This is so lovely and even healing to hear! Not only does He seek the good in every soul, but He sees the beauty in us as well. In other words, Jesus seeks and desires the beauty and goodness in us than looking for our sins and shortcomings. He loves us, and He loves the way the Father has created us, with all our unique gifts and all the good we try to do. Jesus looks for all those things in us, patiently and with great love and hope.
I recently picked up (finally!) St. Therese of Lisieux’s autobiography, The Story of a Soul, and I came across a section where she talks a little about God’s love and forgiveness. Here’s what she wrote:
Our Lord knew that I was far too weak to face temptation; He knew that I would certainly have burned myself in the bewildering light of earthly things, and so He did not let it shine in my eyes. Where stronger souls find joy, but remained detached because they are faithful, I found only misery. I can’t take any credit for not getting entangled in this way; it was only because God had mercy on me and preserved me. Without His help, I might have fallen even lower than St. Mary Magdalene. His wonderful words to Simon the Pharisee, “to whom less is forgiven, he liveth less” (Luke 7:47), echo sweetly in my soul, for He has forgiven me much more than He forgave her. I can’t really explain my feelings about this, but perhaps an example will give you an idea of what I mean: Suppose the son of a skillful doctor falls over a stone lying in his path and breaks a limb. His father hurries to help him and dresses his wound so skillfully that it heals completely. Naturally, he is quite right to love such a father and will be most grateful to him.
But supposing again this doctor saw the dangerous stone, anticipated that his son would fall over it and moved it out of the way when no one was looking; then his son would know nothing of the danger from which his father’s loving care had saved saved him and so would have no reason to show gratitude. He would love him less than if he had healed some serious wound. But if he did find out the truth, surely his love would be even greater? I am that child, the object of the Father’s loving providence, “who did not send His son to call the just, but sinners.” (Luke 5:32). He wants me to love Him because He has forgiven, not much, but everything. He did not wait for me to love Him with a great love, like Magdalene’s, but made me see that He had loved me first, with an infinite providence, so that now I may love Him in return even unto folly.
(St. Therese of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul, p. 47)
St. Augustine wrote a much quoted prayer to Jesus describing conversion, and His love and mercy:
Late have I loved you,
O Beauty so ancient and so new,
late have I loved you!
You were within me, but I was outside,
and it was there that I searched for you.
In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created.
You were with me, but I was not with you.
Created things kept me from you;
yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.
You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.
You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.
You breathed your fragrance on me;
I drew in breath and now I pant for you.
I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.
You touched me, and I burned for your peace.
As we enter Holy Week, may Our Lady help us to be truly aware of our hearts as we live Jesus’ Passion.
P.S. – There will not be a Reflection post next Saturday in order to observe Holy Week. The next Reflection will be posted on April 27th. God bless you all!