02/17/2018 - MERCY AND MISSION


Our Archbishop is leading the charge to unleash the Gospel in all of Southeastern Michigan. We can be confident and even excited to follow our Archbishop’s lead because what he is proposing works! When all Christians respond to the Good News of Jesus and share it with others, hearts, lives, families and communities are transformed.


We spent three weeks looking at the relationship between our Lord’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament and how it leads to mission. That powerful quote of Pope Benedict XVI about the nature of the love we celebrate in Church demands to be shared with others, and our Archbishop’s teaching that the goal of coming to Church on Sunday can never be to simply receive the Sacrament and go home.


We have now concluded a three week homily series about the Sacrament of Reconciliation and unleashing the Gospel. I wanted to focus on how encountering Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation leads to a renewing and a strengthening of our mission to share the Good News with others.


As I prayed with the Gospel, from Luke chapter 5, the miraculous catch of fish, I was so moved by Jesus’ desire for that Gospel to be fulfilled in your life. Jesus longs and waits for you to invite Him into your boat, into your ordinary and everyday life. Just as happened in the Gospel, once He’s in your boat, He wants His light to shine forth from your ordinary life. He wants the truth to be spoken and loved. He wants others to come to know and love Him through you, through the way you live your life: the kindness of your words, the generous and loving service you offer to others.


Once we’ve welcomed Jesus into our everyday life and allowed His light to shine forth, then, just as in the Gospel, He begins to work mighty deeds on our behalf. He moves mountains for us, He heals wounds, He gets our attention by moving with power in our lives. In the case of Simon Peter, who was a fisherman, he understood fish. So, when he witnessed that miraculous catch of fish to the point that both his boat and the boat of his friends were filled to overflowing, it’s at that point that he falls to his knees in the presence of Jesus and asks for mercy.


Often in life, we can make things complicated. This happens especially when we don’t get the order that things should happen right. In Simon Peter’s case, the Lord entered his boat, let His light shine and worked a mighty deed. All of this before Simon Peter asked for mercy. The right order is not: “my life’s a mess, let me get my act together, then I’ll invite Jesus into my boat.” Good luck with that ... trying to get your life together without His help! The first thing to happen is you welcoming and allowing Jesus into your ordinary, everyday life. The other things will then follow. One cannot object either: “my life is too ordinary for Jesus! I’ve been doing the exact same simple and ordinary things for a long time now. How could Jesus care?” Remember, He was a carpenter for the first thirty years of His life. He spent more time sweeping up sawdust that you do washing toilets every day. He is passionately in love with all the ordinary aspects of our life because He is passionately in love with you! We have to stop leaving Jesus at the front door of our lives! It’s time to open the door and welcome Him in!


The call of Isaiah offers us a confirmation of the order revealed in the Gospel. First, Isaiah sees the Lord’s Glory, Majesty, and Power, then he is moved to acknowledge his sins. And just as happens in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, when we acknowledge our sins and ask for forgiveness, the Lord purifies us with the fire of the Holy Spirit. He wipes away all our sins.


Before I tie things together and wrap things up, I want to offer some practical takeaways about the sacrament of reconciliation. First has to do with frequency. If you have lost your friendship with Jesus because of a grave sin, you should go to confession right away. If it’s a question of venial sins, those sins that weaken our friendship with Jesus but don’t cause us to lose it, then once a month is a good rule. For me, the minimum would be to go to confession once every three months. It’s actually quite easy to adopt this custom of going to confession every three months. If you go to our Advent Communal Penance Service and our one in Lent, then it would be planning on going to confession once in June and then again in September. It’s always a good thing to go as a family, or, to invite others to come with you. Share with others weeks ahead of time of your intention to go to confession and invite them to join you.

Second has to do with preparation. The best way to prepare is to look at Jesus hanging on the Cross and speak to Him. Lord, please reveal to me my wounds. So often, our hurting others flows from our own hurting. Lord, show me my chains. Allow the Lord to show you how your freedom has been compromised by the power of certain sins over you. Lord, show me my blinders. We miss out on so many graces when we have a very narrow mind and vision about life.

Third has to do with location. Fr. Peter and I love to be instruments of God’s mercy in your life. Check the parish bulletin for the times. Another great location is St. Bonaventure in Detroit. It is the Fr. Solanus Casey center. They have confessions Monday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm with a break at lunch. Check the schedule ahead of time and take advantage of this wonderful service from the Capuchins and visit the tomb of Blessed Fr. Solanus while you are down there. In the weeks to come, we’ll prepare another resource that has the times of confession of the nearby churches.


What’s the relationship between confession and mission? In the case of Simon Peter and Isaiah, it was when they both confessed their sins and received mercy that they became active members of God’s team! For Simon Peter, it was reassurance by our Lord to not be afraid and that together they would be catching men for the Kingdom. For Isaiah, he overhears this beautiful conversation from the Lord, “Whom shall we send? Who will go for us?” Isaiah responds, “Here I am, Lord! Send me!”

We don’t know the cares of everyone nearby us, but you do, God. Let us pray that each will know your love and receive the blessing they need for today.

Fr. Michael