“The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.” (Psalm 103)
There was once a young girl who was very devoted to Jesus. She prayed every single day to Him, even many times during the day. One day, Jesus appeared to her and asked her to go bring His Good News to her pastor. His Good News was that He continues to be a kind and merciful God, readily willing to forgive people’s sins. When the young girl brought news of this encounter with Jesus to the pastor, his reaction was skepticism. He thought to himself: “How could such a young child have such a deep encounter with Jesus? It must have been a fantasy or her imagination,” so he thought. But the young girl just kept visiting Jesus and bringing this news back to the pastor. One day the pastor thought he would test if the young girl was telling the truth or not. So, he said the following to her: “The next time you see Jesus, ask Him what sins the pastor has done that need forgiveness?” So, she went and asked Jesus this question. When she returned to the pastor to bring him Jesus’ answer to his question of what sins he needed forgiveness for, she responded with what Jesus told her: “Tell the pastor I forgot!” I love this little story because it brings home in a very simple yet powerful way how Jesus handles our sins: He doesn’t keep His mind on them. He knows that sins bear heavy on our souls and bring distress and unhappiness. So He desires that we immediately go to Him to receive His tender mercy and forgiveness. How different we are! We dwell on our sins, keeping them in mind for many years – confessing them over and over again. Those of us brought up at the time when we thought just about everything enjoyable and human was sinful, can still have a hard time understanding how kind and merciful Jesus really is. Many a married couple can remember that they thought they had to confess even the joys of marital intimacy, feeling they were sinful. Also, how suspicious we became of hearing the word “pleasure,” again believing that this came from the evil one. How much suffering we have put ourselves through that was unnecessary! Let us redirect our hearts based upon what God has promised us in Psalm 103: “He pardons all our iniquities, heals all our ills; not according to our sins does He deal with us, nor does He requite us according to our crimes.” Thank you, Jesus, for your love and mercy; we praise your kindness forever!
~ Fr. John