Return to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning
Jesus hates sin, because of what it does to us and others. But he loves sinners and wants us to be whole, to be like him, to be signs of the Father’s love. Fr. Steve asks for prayers for the convocation this week for the priests of the diocese. He uses the Senate hearing of Brett Kavanaugh as an example of poor choices that are regretted years later. It is an indictment of our culture, in which sexual abuse is so prevalent and a sign of decadence and evil. One day we will all be judged on our actions. But if we repent we will be forgiven.
The reason our culture has become so corrupt is because we as Christians have not provided a bulwark against the tsunami of worldly values that has flooded society. We have not told people the truth about human sexuality. This failure has resulted, among other things, in the widespread use of artificial contraception and its corollary, abortion.
Nonetheless, Fr. Steve quotes from Joel 2:12-17:
“‘Even now,’ declares the Lord,
‘return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.
Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.”
We are supposed to be salt, light and leaven. But are we living extraordinary lives or have we been formed by the culture around us?
As we find ourselves in the current abuse crisis, we see that the clergy too have not taken up the responsibility to speak the truth but have, in some cases, led people astray. All of us have wronged other people. We should repent and pray for those whom we have wounded.
Fr. Steve encourages parents to restrict their kids’ access to the internet, so that they will not be, through their inaction, like those who lead “one of these little ones astray,” whom Jesus says should have a millstone tied round their necks and be thrown into the sea.
Fr. Steve quotes from a Letter to Diognetus, which speaks clearly about what the Church always ought to be: a conscience for the culture.
He closes with the encouraging words from 2 Chronicles 7:14:
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
In his post-communion comments Fr. Steve urges those who have been hurt to seek healing from the Lord.
"When understood at a sufficiently deep level, [healing] expresses the entire content of redemption.”
(Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, pp. 175-176)