2 Corinthians 5:20 says: “We implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” The greatest gift of God to humanity is that we are not destined for hell; No, we are destined for heaven by reconciliation. In the first place, no sin is greater than the Blood of Christ and there is no sin that God cannot forgive, period. Secondly, Scripture says that God is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (cf. 2 Peter 3:9). Therefore, the only way we will ever end up in the smoking section of eternity is if we refuse or fail to be reconciled to God. God has given us everything we need to make it to heaven in Christ Jesus. As Scriptures says: “My dear children, I urge you not to sin but if you do, we have an advocate with the father, Christ Jesus, who is the expiation of sin, not only of our sins but the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). So, it is not sin that will send any of us to hell, rather it is our failure to be reconciled with God. This is why the Lenten season is so important because it reminds us of this great need to make up with God, with others, and with ourselves. If we stray, as surely we will for we are humans, we need to quickly seek reconciliation, for we neither know the day nor the hour when God will call any of us home. It is important to remember that reconciliation with God, absolutely and imperatively, goes with forgiving others who have hurt us. Life is full of hurts either from us to others or from others to us. Sometimes, it is advertent and some other times it may be inadvertent. Some acts hurt deeper than others and some are devastatingly hurtful. The hurt could be emotional, physical, psychological, and even sometimes genealogical. The problem is that hurts present a serious challenge to our spiritual wellness because they can inhibit the spirit of forgiveness, thereby prohibiting the reception of God’s forgiving mercy. No matter how deep and devastating our hurt may be, Scripture says that if we refuse to forgive, not only will God not forgive us our sins but He will also remember each and every one of them in detail and then warns us to remember death and judgment (cf. Sirach 28:1-12). Now that is scary! If God remembers my sins in detail, there is no chance whatsoever of me entering into His kingdom. Bottom line; do not let anyone hold up your forgiveness from God or make God remember all your sins in detail. No one is worth that much. Therefore, as you embrace this Lent, think of people who have hurt you and that you have not forgiven and go ahead and forgive them; it is for your own good, not theirs; it is a favor you are doing to yourself, not for them, for you are the greatest beneficiary of it. The Bible says that “Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight” (Sirach 27:30). It will be too dangerous to find out what unforgiveness can do on that last day. So don’t hold on to that anger and hurt any longer; let go now and move on. No one should have the power to hurt your spiritual destiny after he or she have hurt you physically, emotionally, or psychologically. The only reason why I forgive people is not only because of the fact that I do, sometimes, hurt others, either advertently or inadvertently, but most essentially, because I am not going to let anyone send me to hell by me not forgiving them. No way Hosea! No one is going to have that kind of implicit power over me. Another important factor in staying reconciled with God is almsgiving; helping those in need. The Bible says that almsgiving “expiates every sin” (Tobit 12:9); keeps God’s face focused on the individual and keeps one from going into hell” (Tobit 4:7-11). The fact is that we are God’s hand at work in the world and we are the channels for the distribution of His divine graces. Whenever we render help to someone in need, we make God faithful to His promise—“Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and the door will be opened unto you” and because we make God faithful to His promises by these acts, God is glorified in them and since these acts originate from us, God, in turn, showers His graces upon us. As Scripture says: “Give alms and do not turn your face away from any of the poor and God’s face will not be turned away from you” (Tobit 4:7). Almsgiving is most effective when it is accompanied by prayer and fasting. When the apostles wondered why they could not expel a demon from a child, Christ told them that this kind can only be expelled through prayer and fasting (Mark 9:26). The Bible tells us that our battle is not only with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers of darkness and evil spirits in the heavenly places (cf. Ephesians 6:11-12). There are many spiritual evils that we need to expel out of our lives—the spirit of jealousy, anger, envy, unforgiveness, lust, pride, selfishness, hatred, revenge, gossiping, etc. These spirits are deadly dangerous to the soul for they reside in the heart. Our fasting is much more effective if it is geared toward starving these spirits to death rather than just starving from food. As Scripture says: “It is not what enters a man that defiles him but what comes out from his heart.” Fasting that is geared toward spiritual evils is very difficult to do without anchoring ourselves in prayer—plugging into the seven diadems of Christ as declared by the angels in Revelation 5:12—His power, His riches, His wisdom, His strength, His honor, His glory, and His blessings. Plugging into Jesus entails finding time here and there during the day to ask Christ to keep us perpetually in the radiance of these supercharges, spending more time reading the Word of God, increasing the frequency of Mass attendance, being prepared to receive Jesus each time I go to Mass, availing myself sometime during the week to spend time with the Blessed Sacrament, etc. May God grant us the grace to have a very fruitful and blessed Lenten period, Amen!
Your Name 3/24/2014 “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” This one part our Lords Prayer that should frighten any Christian. This is one place you hold God accountable based on your own accountability. There is what I call “My Yearly Clean Slate” I started it 3 years ago. On my birthday I will go through my mental list and think of anyone that I have had any issue with. I will call them and ask them to forgive me for anything that must have brought about any misunderstanding with them. I did the first year I was hard but now I find it easy to do it. There so many avenues to do so text, voice mail. Voice message, Facebook timeline or message, twitter. When you do this do not think of what the person will think of you. Bury your ego and know you are doing it for yourself and not the person. How over the person reacts is their cup of coffee, not your. We are in this race for our souls not for anyone else. Thanks, Monsignor for your article. franselm 3/31/2014 That is what it takes to stay reconciled with the Lord. Keep doing it. I will even suggest that it is done daily, at the end of each day for we neither know the date nor the hour. franselm 4/16/2014 I like your take on it. Hope you can bring it to your friends and family. franselm 4/16/2014 You are right! I live by that awareness and pray that God will keep me reconciled every moment of my life.