Chapter Four Confidence in God and Our Spiritual Necessities
Our Lord Is Merciful to Sinners
Divine Providence feeds the birds of the trees; It also takes care of our bodies. What is this body of misery? A fragile creature, one condemned to death and destined to be consumed by worms.
In the mad rush of life, we think that all things lead to business or to pleasures. However, every step moves us closer to the end. We ourselves drag our corpses to the edge of the grave.
If God so concerns Himself with perishable bodies, with what solicitude will He not look after our immortal souls? He prepares for them treasures of grace, whose riches exceed all that we can imagine. He sends them superabundant help for their sanctification and salvation.
These means of sanctification that the Faith puts at our disposal will not be studied here.
I merely wish to speak to the worried souls that one finds everywhere. With the Gospel in my hand, I will show them the emptiness of their fears.
Neither the gravity of their faults nor their multiple relapses into errors should overwhelm them.
On the contrary, the more they sense the weight of their own misery, the more they should lean upon God. Let them not lose confidence! However horrible their state may be, even though they may have led a disorderly life for a long time, with the help of grace, they can convert and be raised to high perfection.
The mercy of Our Lord is infinite; nothing exhausts it, not even faults that appear to us to be the most degrading and criminal ones. During His mortal life the Master received sinners with a truly divine goodness; He never refused them pardon.
Moved by the ardour of her repentance, Mary Magdalen enters the banquet hall. Without worrying about worldly conventions, she prostrates herself before the feet of Jesus, inundating them with tears. Simon, the Pharisee, contemplates the scene with a sarcastic air; he becomes indignant within himself. “If this man were a prophet,” he thinks, “he would know surely what this woman is worth. He would reject her with disdain.” But the Saviour does not reject her. He accepts her sighs, her tears, all the sensible signs of her humble contrition. He purifies her of her stains and showers her with supernatural gifts. And His Sacred Heart overflows with immense joy, while on high, in the Kingdom of His Father, the angels vibrate with jubilation and praise. A soul that was lost has been found; a soul was dead, and, behold, it is again restored to true life!
The Master is not content with receiving poor sinners with sweetness; He goes so far as to take up their defence. And is this not, furthermore, His mission? Did He not make Himself our advocate?1
One day they bring him a wretched woman, surprised in the flagrant act of her sin. The harsh law of Moses condemns her formally; the guilty person must die the slow torment of stoning.
Nevertheless, the Scribes and Pharisees wait impatiently for the sentence of the Saviour. If He pardons her, His enemies will accuse Him for despising the traditions of Israel. What will He do?
A single word will fall from His lips, and this word will be enough to confound the proud Pharisees and save the sinful woman.
“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”2
An answer full of wisdom and of mercy. Hearing it, these arrogant men blush with shame. They withdraw, confounded, one after the other; the ancients are the first to flee.
And Jesus is left alone with the woman. “Where are they that accused thee?” He asks. “Hath no man condemned thee?”
She answers: “No man, Lord.” And Jesus continues: “Neither will I condemn thee! Go, and now sin no more!”3
When sinners come to Him, Jesus hurries to meet them. Like the father of the prodigal son, He is waiting for the return of the ungrateful ones. Like the good shepherd, He seeks after the lost sheep; and when He finds it, He puts it on His divine shoulders and restores it bloodstained
to the fold.
Oh! He will not irritate its wounds; like the good Samaritan, He will treat them with symbolic wine and oil. Over its sores, He will pour the balsam of penitence; and, in order to fortify it, He will make it drink of His Eucharistic chalice.
Guilty souls, do not fear the Saviour; it was especially for you that He came down to earth. Never renew the cry of despair of Cain: “My iniquity is greater than that I may deserve pardon.”4 How this would amount to being ignorant of the Heart of Jesus!
Jesus purified Magdalen and pardoned the triple denial of Peter. He opened heaven to the good thief. In truth, I assure you, if Judas had gone to Him after the crime, Our Lord would have received him with mercy.