"A lay Catholic perspective"

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From Out of Town

by John Lewis


WHEN MARK TOLD ME that this month the topic would be "Reconciliation through the Cross" I couldn't even spell it. But that evening I was reading some prayers and this is one of them. "We pray for those who have turned away from your paths, that they may experience the grace of your forgiveness and the joy of rising to new life." For myself I would pray for all of us who have strayed.

I notice that people who write religion columns in newspapers are often asked why bad things happen to good people. Why do good people suffer? There is only One who is good but even so the question needs an answer. What is this cross I am to take up today?

In the prayer I pray that we will experience the grace of God's forgiveness and the joy of rising to new life. It's another thing I would not have figured out — if we had never sinned we would not need a saviour. My pride is so great that sometimes I think I can save myself. The daily cross is to say the things Jesus said and do the things that Jesus did, so what did he do? He did good to those who hated him, he blessed those who cursed him, he prayed for those who mistreated him. When we crucified him he said "Father forgive them." God paid an awesome price to enter into a relationship with us. Our relationship is through the cross. In the Lord's prayer I ask, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Convicting words indeed. I'd better forgive others because I am counting on God forgiving me. I need a Saviour. Simon the magician wanted the power without the pain.

When Saint Pachomius founded monasteries in the Egyptian desert he recognized that it is much harder to live in community than to be a hermit and live alone. He was very strict in allowing only men in the monastery. One day his sister showed up wanting to start a monastery. He would not see her. Subsequently he did help her found convents for women but he insisted that they all be located on the other side of the Nile River. One smart saint.

I would like to be a recluse: I have to force myself to be sociable. As age marches on I have a choice to become an old fool or to become a fool for Christ. God have mercy; help me so that I may experience the grace of your forgiveness and the joy of rising to new life.