Earlier this week, we kept the anniversary of St. Therese of Lisieux’s death. On the 100th anniversary of her death, twenty-one years ago, Pope St. John Paul II wrote a letter about her. He quoted the opening prayer for today’s Holy Mass, where we acknowledge that God demonstrates His almighty power most clearly by pardoning and showing mercy.
In the gospel passage today, we hear the Lord Jesus warn His countrymen about missing the big news. The Big News. That God became man in order to make mankind children of God. God came to reconcile us sinners to His perfect self.
Infinite, perfect justice and truth, acting with unfathomable love. God doing as a man what we men, left to ourselves, could never do: Make things right. Settle all our debts with our Creator. God, as a man, freed us from the burden of our ungodliness.
The Christ paid our bill in full. He did not turn away from the full extent of human sin. When we look at a crucifix, all prudishness and all saccharine-sweetness melt away. This is what He did, because He had to do it, to save us.
His act of mercy allows us to stare our sins square in the face. We can reckon them fearlessly. Because we know that He has redeemed us from them; all we have to do is admit them.
Twenty-first century man risks missing this news. Like the townspeople of Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida, who never recognized the Christ. Twenty-first century man risks having to live in his sins, paralyzed by self-righteous rigidity and hopeless desperation. There’s no one to tell him about Christ. Except us.