Repentance encourages, shame paralyzes: Commentary to the Gospel of September 6

Faith and hope are lived on a personal level, but also in a religious community, in the family, in a parish community or in a school community. It can be a place of encounter with God and with the people who are nearest to us. The community can be the place of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Christ promises us His presence when we are gathered in His name: “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in their midst. Progressing in prayer and in the Word of Christ, in the Gospel.

St. Francis Ferrer affirms that “Jesus Christ will never grant his grace, without which we can do nothing, to those who have at their disposal someone capable of instructing and directing them, despises this help, convinced that he will be sufficient for himself and that he will find by himself all that is useful for his salvation” (Treatise on the Spiritual Life II, chapter I).

We have to help each other in nurturing hope and trust. The opposite would be very sad: hopelessness and mistrust. Hope is not only the expectation of a future good that can be achieved, but the anticipation of the things promised and given by Christ. Hope leads us to faith and charity. Hope makes it possible for Christ to live within us. Hope is feeling like a child of the Heavenly Father and living as a true child by grace.

St. John tells us: “From now on we are God’s children, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be. We know that, when he appears, we will be like him because we will see him as he is” (1 Jn 3:2).

The “now” accepted in faith and lived in love is projected towards the promise of not abandoning Christ, thanks to hope. For this reason, hope is much more than optimism. Christ on the cross, before He died, was betrayed, rejected, abandoned. His work seems to have failed. But His cry on the cross is victory: He has conquered the world!

With regard to forgiveness, which is an aspect of love, I must say that Peter’s response to Christ’s immense goodness was to deny him before he was crucified. The shame of his sin crushes Peter. Christ inspired a holy repentance in him. Shame sometimes paralyzes, repentance instills courage. Repentance is an act of humility. This is what happened to Peter.

We, too, are sincere when we tell Christ that we love Him, but instantly deny Him for some insignificant pleasure. Peter boasted of his strength and in this he deceived himself. Christ wants our desire to love Him to be immense. But our desires must become prayer. We can do all things with Christ. Without Him we can do nothing.

We are capable of doing penances, of fasting from certain foods and other pious penances, but we do not ask Christ to help us love him more and more.

Let’s learn to be nice. We should love and forgive others as if the neighbour were yourself. This love is spontaneously kind. Let us avoid setting a bad example. To love God is to give everything.

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