By Kathleen Bordo Crombie
But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven,
but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ ~ Luke 18:134
I had been a lukewarm Catholic through college and a good chunk of my married life. I had a lot of issues with the Church, but I never stopped going to Mass on Sunday; thanks be to God. But when my youngest son was diagnosed with Hodgkins’ disease (cancer) at 18 years of age, I suddenly began to pray again (like down on both knees praying), and it wasn’t even Sunday.
God is so merciful!
Through prayer and a good friend, the Lord sent us to an elderly Michigan man who had the visible wounds of Christ in his hands. Since 2019 he has been known as Servant of God Irving C. “Francis” Houle. After laying his wounded hands on both of us individually, my son was physically healed, which is exactly what we prayed for. Praise God! The surprise healing was my own spiritual conversion, which brought me fully back to my Catholic faith and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Entering through the confessional door of mercy, I began, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned; it’s been about 30 years since my last confession.” Those words were profoundly difficult for me to say out loud. Like the tax collector in today’s gospel, I was ashamed and afraid, but I found the courage to beg for God’s mercy! And through the absolution of my sins by a priest in persona Christi, the Lord granted it! Just like that!
We serve an amazing, love-crazed God!
He took on our humanity and died on the cross, so we would no longer be enslaved by sin. Heaven awaits those who are true disciples of Christ. The key to living what He teaches is our humility – our surrender, trust, and obedience. The self-righteous, like the Pharisee who prayed, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity …” (Lk 18:11), are on the wrong path toward embracing humility.
We must never be pretentious with God – He’s omnipotent, knows us better than we know ourselves, and cannot be fooled. God unleashes His gracious and overflowing mercy on the humble, sorrowful, and repentant sinner. So once we’re on the right track towards true righteousness, unlike the Pharisee in the temple, we will have a closer relationship with the God who created and loves us.
Thank you, Lord, for searching us out and allowing us opportunities to experience your love and mercy. Let us hear your voice daily and seek your will in everything. Let us become holy, righteous, and deserving disciples who humbly follow and obey your teachings, especially when it’s not easy or convenient. Amen.
Call to Action
What opportunities has God allowed in your life to experience His love and mercy? What was your response?
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