In a particular diocese, the bishop gets a report about a visionary who was attracting a lot of attention following her claim of receiving messages directly from our Lord Jesus Christ. After receiving a number seemingly credible and incredible reports, the bishop decides to pay an unscheduled visit to the visionary. After hearing her stories, the bishop was still in doubt and tells her that whenever the Lord appears to her again, she should ask him to say to her the sins he (the bishop) confessed the last time he went for confessions and the visionary accepted.
One week later, the bishop receives a phone call from the visionary indicating that the Lord visited her, and she remembered to ask the question. The bishop was shocked because he thought that the visionary would never call because he was in doubt about her claims and gave her a difficult task. However, he rushes down to see the visionary with one of his priests who just concluded a doctoral study in the Scriptures in Rome. When they arrived, the bishop decided to have a private discussion with the visionary because it would be about his sins.
When they were by themselves, the bishop was curious to know what the Lord said to the visionary about his sins, and he was a bit nervous. “What did the Lord say about the sins I confessed during my last confession?” The bishop asked with his voice shaking slightly. The visionary looking at him directly in the eyes responds saying,
The Lord says that he cannot remember any of your sins because his merciful love is so powerful that it cleared all the sins away when you confessed, and there is no remembrance of them anymore. However, he said that he would be happy if you don’t commit those sins again.
The bishop was confused and overwhelmed at the same time. The prelate thanks the visionary and promises to return after making some consultations. While they were driving back the bishop shares the encounter with the priest who accompanied him to see the visionary and the priest says to the bishop, “she is absolutely right.” “How would God not remember the sins I confessed, is He no longer the all-knowing God?” The bishop asked. The priest now goes scriptural to convince the bishop. He gives the following quotations to the bishop.
- Isaiah 43:25 – “I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”
- 2nd 5:19 – “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
- 8:12 – “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.”
God is more interested in our glorious future than in our unproductive past. From the answer of the visionary to the bishop, we understand that God is not concerned about our past sins and mistake, but He needs us to become better going forward.
The First Reading (2 Chron. 36:14-16, 19-23) tells us how all the people of Israel, without exception, offended God by adding infidelity to infidelity. God gave them time to turn back, but they refused and even revolted against His messengers, and this brought about the Babylonian captivity or exile. After many years, God’s merciful love goes in search of the people and through a pagan king, Cyrus of Persia, the survivors among people received the grace of restoration to the promised land.
We are all sinners (Eccles. 7:20; Romans 3:23), we often fail to be faithful to God though He remains faithful because he cannot deny His own self (2 Tim. 12:13). Despite our sins, God is continually looking out for us like he did to the people of Israel and He is ready to have us back if only we could turn back to Him (Jer. 15:19). St. Paul explains to us in the Second Reading (Eph. 2:4-10) that our reconciliation and salvation is by the grace of God; though we were dead in our transgressions, God brought us back and saved us by His grace.
God does not want us to die for our sins. The incarnation is a proof of God’s desire for our salvation. The Gospel Reading (John 3:14-21), tells us among other things that God sent His Son (leveraging on his love) so that the world might be saved through him. But there is a clause for our salvation, and that is our belief “everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
Belief refers to our faith in God’s merciful love to forgive our sins and wipe them off completely. Often, we tie ourselves to our past sins even when we have confessed them. Some people allow their past sins to limit them from making a saintly future. The message of today tells us that God does not count nor remember our confessed past. God does not deal with us according to our sins nor reward us according to our iniquities (Psalm 103:10); David asked: “If God should remember and count our guilt, who can stand?” (Psalm 130:3).
The Fourth Sunday of Lent invites us to rejoice because God’s merciful love is available to us after our episodes of sinfulness. There is today an invitation for us to return to God and enjoy the grace of His merciful love. This season of Lent is timely enough to undertake the journey back to our loving and compassionate Father.
Let us bear in mind that God does not remember our past sins, but he is anticipating our return to Him like the loving father of the prodigal son (Luke 15: 20). Today is a good day for you to return to God and receive His merciful love. Have a great Sunday and a graceful week ahead.