“God with patience and mercy awaits the sinner until his death in order to have pity upon him, should he, even in this last moment, regret his evil ways and turn toward Him. For the Lord who is merciful does not rejoice in the loss of the living.” –From “Sermon in a Sentence: A Treasury of Quotations on the Spiritual Life; Vol. 5: St. Thomas Aquinas,” pg. 136. Selected and Arranged by John P. McClernon.
I just now listened to a wonderful sermon of St. Alphonsus de Liguori for this Sunday, which is Laetare Sunday, on this very point. He spoke of the tender compassion which Our Lord had for those who were suffering hunger as they gathered near to him on the mount. The gospel for today relates this miracle of the loaves and fishes. But going further, he reminded the listener of the greater compassion Our Lord has for the repentant sinner doing penance.
It may actually do better if I were to post a link to this wonderful sermon so that you can hear it yourself. You will not regret it–it is a beautiful reminder of the tender mercies of God toward those who turn to Him. I will post the link at the end of this post.
So often we forget how merciful God is in this Holy Season of Lent. Our minds are focused on doing penance, on fulfilling the bodily fast, on keeping away from those things which lead us into sin or excess. But the words of the above sermon are a refreshing and uplifting reminder that God’s mercies are infinite and much greater than we can ever imagine. The beautiful stories, the often long-forgotten stories and parables which illustrate this mercy brought tears to my eyes. The parable of the lost sheep and of the prodigal son; the gospel account of Mary Magdalene weeping and washing the feet of Jesus with her tears of repentance, and His tender forgiveness of her sins…all of these illustrate the great and undeserved mercy of God towards penitent sinners.
And to think…as we do penance, as we weep for our sins, uncovering them and striving to amend our lives…God receives us back into His arms as enthusiastically and as lovingly as the father in the parable received his prodigal son, with joyous weeping, clothing us with the robe of grace and replacing the ring on the finger of our souls, signifying that our souls are once more the spouse of Jesus Christ. How He loves us, and what mercy He shows to those whose hearts are burdened with contrition and sorrow!
Let us never hesitate to fly to the feet of Christ, Who is waiting with open arms to cleanse us by His Precious Blood and clothe us with His grace, for as our Saint says, “The Lord Who is merciful does not rejoice in the loss of the living.”
Here is the link for the sermon: http://traditionalcatholicsermons.org/index_files/