Thirty-first Sunday Ordinary Time
October 30, 2022 •
Why is penance so essential to the forgiveness of our sins? If Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins, why do you and I, when we confess, have to pay at least some price? Because that's what penance is. The mode by which - at least in a small way - we seek to make up for our sin. Obviously our penances are not sufficient to make up for our sin. Only the Cross of Jesus can do that. But He still expects us to contribute. To do some type of act of sacrifice or penance. The simple reason is: out of justice, there are consequences to sin. . . .
As human beings, the "ripple effects" that we cause when we sin are twofold. There is the spiritual effect, and the material, or physical, effect. You and I are complex creatures. We're not animals and we're not angels. Angels are pure spirit, animals are pure matter. As humans, we're matter and spirit. So when I do something that has a moral quality to it, it effects both matter and spirit.
Jesus pays the price for the spirit. He fixes the problem we have with God when we sin. That's what His Cross makes up for, which is why He can forgive us. But He does not pay the price for the matter, for the natural order of things. That's one of the things He requires us to participate in - the natural consequences of sin. He takes care of the supernatural stuff - that's why we're forgiven by God. We have the responsibility to help take care of the natural stuff.
One of the ways we do that is through our penances. Now, the penances we receive in confession don't really make up for much. So it's not like the Lord is necessarily asking us to do the whole thing.
The Saints teach us that our Lord, in His infinite wisdom and justice, gives us the penance we need throughout our lives to make up for our past sins. These are the daily crosses that come to us.
And if we go to confession, repent of our sins, do our little penance, and suffer patiently the crosses that come to us throughout each day, then we're saved. There's no worry. . . .
In our Gospel today, Zacchaeus is going to confession. It's one of the first examples ever of anyone going to confession to Jesus. When he has this encounter with Jesus, he's repenting of his sins. And he's willing to do penance! What does he say? "Lord, half of all my possessions I will give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone I will pay it back four times over." I think that's a very good penance.
But it's not his penance that enables Jesus to forgive him, it's Jesus' penance for him - the Cross. Yet, he's still required to some act of penance himself. This is why the Lord says, "Salvation has come to your home." You were humble. You have admitted to your sins and repented. You are willing to do penance.
How could the Lord refuse forgiveness to anyone like that? He can't! He won't. . . . .
The problem that we have is that we resist these penances.Or we don't freely take them upon ourselves as Zacchaeus does. . . .
But the Lord will give you the penances that you need. Every little cross, every little suffering - and the big, of course - that comes to you each day is our Lord's gift to you. . . .
Our Lord is a just God. He's infinitely merciful, but He's also infinitely just. He has for each one of us a certain requirement of penance that we're going to have to complete in our lives in order to go straight to Heaven when we die. Now if we don't get that penance done before we die, that's what purgatory is. It's one of the reasons there's a purgatory. I've got to finish up, pay back the small debt that I still owe the Lord.
If I have suffered my daily crosses patiently, then when I die - by His grace and the sacraments of the Church - I'm good. I'll go straight to Heaven.
Father goes on to explain the grace of the Apostolic Blessing. Don't miss it.
Wis 11:22—12:2; Ps 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14; 2Thes 1:11—2:2; Lk 19:1-10
We had technical issues Sunday which prevented the live streaming of the Mass. We apologize for being unable to post it here.