Saint Clement of Alexandria helps me to focus on what the Church has given for the 26th Sunday Through the Year: “The doors are open for all who sincerely and wholeheartedly return to God. Indeed, the Father is most willing to welcome back a truly repentant son or daughter. The result of true repentance, however, is that you do not fall into the same faults again, but utterly uproot from your souls the sins for which you consider yourself worthy of death. When these have been destroyed God will again dwell within you, since Scripture says that for the Father and his angels in heaven the festal joy and gladness at the return of one repentant sinner is great beyond compare. That is why the Lord cried out: ‘What I want is mercy, not sacrifice.’ ”
How close can I adhere to what Saint Clement is teaching? The other day I was speaking of the sin of presumption at a faith formation class –a concept that had vague recall from some of the participants. As the saint reminds, God is eager to welcome home a sinner with lots of mercy; that God will dwell within our soul with great vigor. The expectation is that the sinner reject sin. But what will happen if the love of sin is privileged more than the love of God?
Dom Lino’s book on Romano Bottegal there is a sentence which said: “To be called to Christianity, to the priesthood, to monastic life, is to be called to leave the figure (the image) – the teacher, the law – to enter into the reality (grace), the first and final intention of God – union with God and with the brothers, in a love that is personal, universal and humble.”
Where is the good news today? The good news today is that we have the possibility of beginning again – repentance/conversion – because this is what God wants for us: to have life and have life to the full! Christianity is the religion of the perpetual second chance.