Fr. Pecchie's Message 09/26/21

When we think about our own sins, we have a tendency to play down how horrible they really are. But every sin is destructive; it is a rebellion against God, our Creator and Redeemer. And we should be grateful that the Church is courageous enough to remind us of that, so that we don't ever get comfortable in our sins. Pope John Paul II had a run-in with the Italian Mafia about this.
In 1982 he visited Sicily and condemned the Mafia's activity in a highly publicized speech. This gave courage to priests and lay people in southern Italy, who renewed efforts to defend the common good. In 1993 he again traveled to Sicily, and again explicitly denounced the Mafia in a speech delivered in the city of Agrigento. The illegal and immoral activities of organized crime were like a social disease in Sicily, and the Pope spoke out against them, much as St. James speaks against social sins in today's Second Reading. Two months later, car bombs exploded outside two churches in Rome, one of which was the pope's Cathedral, St John Lateran. Later investigations traced these bombs back to the Mafia. Two months after that, an anti-Mafia priest in Sicily was murdered on his doorstep, shot in the back of the neck.
A year later [November 1994], John Paul II made another trip to Sicily. And in spite of the obvious danger, he once again spoke out against the injustices of violence and corruption. "Those who are responsible for violence and arrogance stained by human blood will have to answer before the justice of God," he said. "Today, there is a strong yearning in Sicily to be redeemed and liberated, especially from the power of the Mafia."
Sin matters; it is destructive of its victims, and it is destructive of its perpetrators, and we should be grateful that, through the teachings of the Church, the Holy Spirit continues to remind us of this, even when it's not popular. Sin matters - the Church is reminding us of that today. But in this Mass the Church reminds us of something else too, that God's mercy matters more.
Sin is destructive, terrible, diabolical. But Jesus has conquered sin, which is why we call Him our Savior.
The Catechism (#420) tells us: "The victory that Christ won over sin has given us greater blessings than those which sin had taken from us." The destruction that sin causes in our lives is not the end of the story. God can forgive usit is never too late; God can redeem us; God can take the ruins that sin causes and build them into something more magnificent than we ever could have imagined.
We just have to give Him the chance. And how do we do that? The first step is so simple, but sometimes so hard - come to confession. God already knows our sins; He knows how much they obstruct our spiritual progress and lacerate our souls, and how much we need His grace to overcome them. That's why He invented confession, to give us a chance to start over, as many times as we need to. Most of us already know this, and we use the great gift of confession frequently.
But we also know plenty of people who don'tand they are suffering deeply on the inside because of it, experiencing the ravages of sin. Maybe a word of encouragement, an invitation, a sharing of experiences from us is all God needs to bring them back and give them that fresh start. Sin matters, but God's infinite, redemptive mercy matters more. That's the message of today's Mass, and of every Mass; this week, let us take that message outside of Mass, let's bring it into the world around us, and let God's grace win some new victories. 


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