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THE BISHOP'S CROZIER: Merciful and Inexhaustible Love

THE BISHOP'S CROZIER: Merciful and Inexhaustible Love

By Bishop James R. Golka

And I will give them another heart and a new spirit I will put within them. From their bodies I will remove the hearts of stone, and give them hearts of flesh, so that they walk according to my statutes, taking care to keep my ordinances. Thus they will be my people, and I will be their God.” 
— Ezekiel 11:19-20

Perhaps you have read C.S. Lewis’ book or seen the film adaptation of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”  If so, you know at the end of the story there is a critical moment where Aslan the Lion, who represents Jesus Christ, restores life to all the creatures that the White Witch had turned into statues.

This is how Lewis depicts what sin does to us. Sin takes away our freedom and has a way of trapping us so we are not free to partake in the good things that God wants for us.

The good news is that there is hope! In the story, Aslan breathes on the statues, freeing them from their stone bondage. Lewis writes, “Everywhere the statues were coming to life. The courtyard looked no longer like a museum; it looked more like a zoo. Creatures were running after Aslan and dancing round him till he was almost hidden in the crowd.”

Not only does Aslan free the creatures who had been turned into stone, but he also has a bigger plan — he brings them into battle to fight the White Witch and to free Narnia from the evil of her tyranny.

Is this not what our savior and brother Jesus does?  He restores us and breathes life into the places where sin has trapped us. He heals and frees us so that we are no longer slaves to sin. And just as Aslan brings the liberated creatures into battle, Jesus also brings us with him into the work of fighting the devil. The first step, though, is to seek forgiveness and reconciliation with him, to become “un-frozen,” if you will.

This Divine Mercy Sunday, we have an incredible opportunity to encounter our Lord in confession, the humble sacrament of mercy. In the sacrament of reconciliation, we enter into a relationship with the very person of mercy. Our Lord meets us in our sinfulness, washing us clean in his blood and embracing us in the ocean of his love, his charity.

An important aspect of the sacrament of reconciliation is charity. We are called to extend this forgiveness and mercy to others. When we are reconciled with God, he also calls us to be in communion with others. Each Sunday (and hopefully every day!) when we pray the Our Father, the prayer that Jesus gave us, we ask the Lord to “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We are called to be ambassadors of mercy, extending forgiveness to anyone who has harmed us, as well as seeking reconciliation with anyone we have hurt through our sinfulness.

Many Catholics are not aware that one of the precepts of the Church is to confess our sins at least once per year. This is more than just a “rule.” It is a way that the Church invites us to grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus and to remove the obstacles that keep us from growing in union with him. Whether it’s been one month or 30 years since you’ve last been to confession, this Easter season I invite you to make it a priority to be reconciled with God, with the Church, and with your neighbor in the sacrament of reconciliation. Jesus thirsts for you!

We all have a special opportunity to experience this unity with our humble and charitable Jesus.  Please come to the diocesan Divine Mercy celebration this Sunday, April 7, at St. Mary’s Cathedral. We will have numerous priests available to hear confessions starting at 1:30 p.m., with Mass to follow at 3 p.m.

Furthermore, we have a rare privilege in our diocese. In addition to the regular parish confession times, we are also incredibly blessed to have confessions available Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m.- 8 p.m. at The Catholic Center at the Citadel Mall here in Colorado Springs. Not only is Jesus waiting for you in the sacrament of reconciliation, in Colorado Springs he’s waiting for you at a time that’s convenient for you.

Our merciful Lord has blessed our diocese with ample opportunities to experience forgiveness, to transform hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, to enter into the Divine Mercy. As we celebrate the glory of the Resurrection this Easter season, my prayer for each of you is that you truly encounter the Lord in his merciful and inexhaustible love for you.

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