FEARS THAT PREVENT US TO BE LOVED BY
As Jesus walked on the waters of
Galilee early that morning, the Apostles peered into the distance and as He
drew closer they cried out: “It is a ghost!” So terrified were they that their
minds created the fearful image of a ghost! With a firm, peaceful and
reassuring voice this “apparent ghost” that was really Jesus called out: “Do
not be afraid, it is I.”(Mt 14: 22-34)
Peter, always impulsive in nature,
blurted out: “Lord, if it is you, tell
me to come out of the boat.” Jesus
reassuring invited Simon Peter with one word: “Come!” Peter lifted his foot,
touched the water of the lake that he was so familiar with as fisherman, and to
the surprise of the others as well as to his own surprise, Simon Peter was
actually walking on the water! But only for a moment! Soon Simon Peter started
to falter, and to sink in the waves.
As Peter was sinking deeper and
deeper he desperately cried out: “Lord, save me!” Jesus, always loving but
challenging, with one hand was gently rebuking Peter: “O man of little faith!”
With the other hand Jesus stretched out to grasp firmly the hand of Peter; as
soon as Jesus grasped the hand of Peter, the doubting, faltering and weak
Apostle rose from the waters, walked again on the waters and entered the boat
with Jesus. Then the boat quickly
crossed over to the shore, with Jesus, all were safe and sound!
Why was it that Simon Peter actually
did walk on the water and then sink, only to be lifted up by the word and firm
grasp of Jesus? This is the question we must respond to so as to confront,
admit and to conquer our own fears that all too often can paralyze us!
THE RESPONSE! Peter actually started
walking on the waters like Jesus who was in front of Peter, face to face.
However, something happened! Peter faltered, filled with fear began to sink
below the mighty waves. Could it be for this simple reason: Simon Peter lifted
his gaze off the Face and loving eyes of the Lord and Master Jesus Christ??? This must be the proper answer to the sinking
Peter. Instead of focusing on the Person, the Face, the loving and assuring
eyes of Jesus, Peter lifted up his eyes and saw the engulfing waves, the
powerful wind, and the stormy sea. In other words, Peter by lifting up his gaze
from the all-loving gaze of Jesus he focused more on the problem than on “The
problem-solver”. The problem-solver was none other than Jesus Christ.
Therefore, the problem of the sinking
Peter is really our problem, too! Instead of going to Jesus we focus on the
enormous waves, powerful winds, and threatening storms in our lives. Of course
we are speaking about letting our problems sink us. Our major problem is that
we focus more on the problem or problems in our lives than on the
“Problem-solver”. That problem-solver is Jesus, the Son of God, the Son of
Mary, and The Friend that will never fail us!
This being said, what are some of the
problems today that can prevent Jesus from truly loving us? In fact Jesus is love and His love for us is
permanent, unchanging; Saint Paul calls Jesus the ROCK. However, all too easily
we can doubt and sink in the waves like SIMON PETER. It is interesting that
there are two names to this charming Biblical figure: SIMON PETER. Venerable
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen specifies that the two names indicate the
double-personality of this future saint. Simon is the man in the flesh, if you
like the Pre-Pentecost person. Peter is the new man of the spirit, who has
received the down-pouring of the spirit, after that powerful novena of nine
days of prayer, penance, with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
SIMON PETER in us! We all have the SIMON PETER in us! Jesus reminded the Apostles and us in the
Garden: “Stay awake and pray so that you do not be put to the test. The spirit
is willing but the flesh is weak.” Saint Paul reiterates the same truth saying
that he knows the good he is called to do, but he ends up by doing the
opposite. That inner tension, that interior battle, the flesh fighting against
the spirit manifests itself in every person who enters into this world. Indeed,
our life on earth is a constant battle, a perpetual war between good and evil.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola in his classic meditation calls it the two Standards,
the Standard of Satan against the Standard of Christ the King!
Therefore, let us mention just a few
of the fears or we might even call them the ghosts that are lurking in the dark
corners of our lives that have the power to paralyze us from letting Jesus, our
best Friend, from truly loving us! Our
primary thrust today will be an innate and powerful and even paralyzing fear to
approach JESUS AS HEALER, JESUS AS DIVIN PHYSICIAN, JESUS WHO HEALS US THROUGH
FEAR OF CONFESSION. One of the most common fears that can
paralyze all of us is to examine our consciences, recognize our sins that have
offended God, and humble and sincerely admit them and then confess them to the
priest that represents Christ. In the Diary of Saint Faustina Kowalska Jesus
highlights frequently that His greatest attribute is that of His Divine Mercy.
Actually Jesus says that the greatest of all sins is when somebody fails to
trust in His infinite mercy; this lack of trust is what pierces the loving and
merciful heart of Jesus most deeply. The primary difference between Simon Peter
and Judas was a trust issue. Simon Peter fell by denying Jesus three times, as
was predicted. However, Simon Peter repented, asked for forgiveness and was
forgiven and given the rank of Papacy—the first Pope. He reaffirmed his love
for Jesus three times to repair for the triple denial. ( Jn. 21: 15-23) On the
contrary Judas betrayed Jesus and gave into despair. He refused to trust—this
indeed was his major fault and downfall. Maybe we have a little of the “Judas”
in us??? We fall and sink in the waves of
our own guilt. Jesus has His hand outstretched but we fail to grab on to His
hand! Now is the time to admit that we are sinners, but to trust even more in
the mercy of Jesus. Saint Paul reminds us: “Where sin abounds the mercy of God
abounds all the more.” (Romans 5) Saint Augustine, who lived a very sinful life
into his thirties, expresses the consoling spiritual truth: “God will only
allow evil if he can bring greater good out of evil!” The classic example of
this: the sin of Adam and Eve was the great evil. However due to this, God the
Father sent His only Son Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, to save us. The
Incarnation of the Son of God and the Redemption far surpassed the sin of our
first parents in greatness! As the Church sings in the Easter Vigil Mass: “O
happy fault, o happy fault (Of Adam and Eve) that caused the coming of the
Redeemer! ( Gen. 3—the Original sin of Adam and Eve)
Therefore, why not place your total
trust in Jesus who came to seek out the lost sheep, Jesus who came to heal the
lepers, and Jesus who came to receive the Prodigal Son with a loving embrace
and open house, and prepare yourself to make the best Sacramental Confession in
your entire life? You will never regret it!
POPE FRANCIS AND YEAR OF MERCY FOR
THE WHOLE WORLD. Pope Francis has announced the Year of mercy that is quickly
approaching: from the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (December 8th,
2015) ending on the Solemnity of Christ the King, 2016. The Holy Father wants
us to overcome our fears of approaching Jesus the Lord and to trust in His
infinite mercy. These fears can be conquered and mercy experienced in a most
abundant manner by approaching the Throne of God’s mercy through making a
TYPICAL FEARS LEVELLED AND LAUNCHED
BY THE DEVIL TO PREVENT RECEIVING THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION:
SINS TOO GREAT! The devil can convince us that our sins are
too many and too great! How astute the devil, but how wrong! Jesus did not come
for the perfect or the saints who have no sins. On the contrary, Jesus came to
save the sinners. Bishop Sheen points
out that the primary purpose and mission of Jesus’ coming was SAVIOR—he came to
save us of our sins. The forgiveness of sins is expressed most especially by
TOMORROW. The devil of tomorrow is never too far away.
How often do we put off for tomorrow, especially in our spiritual lives, what
we should do today! In Spanish there is the phrase that says it all: “La
Filosofia de la manana!” No hurry; I will do it tomorrow! Read the classic work
by C.S. Lewis Screwtape Letters and you will learn the
tactics of the devil, especially in convincing us in the art of
I GET NERVOUS: MY MIND GOES
BLANK!!! This might be the case, but to
remedy this why not prepare yourself the night before the day you confess and
write out your sins on a sheet of paper as a guide and as a memory—helper! Mission accomplished and devil defeated, for
those of short-term memory!
THE PRIEST KNOWS ME!!! Easy to
conquer this devil! You can simply go behind the confessional screen and make
an anonymous confession. However, even if it were face to face, the priest will
admire you more and more for your great humility. Moreover, priests who confess
often have most likely heard these sins many times over and will not be shocked
and have a heart-attack!!! Also, priests are afflicted with weakness and have
to confess their sins to other priests. (Hebrews 5:2)
THE PRIEST MIGHT TELL MY SINS! Never!
The priest is obliged; otherwise he could run the risk of excommunication, of
what is called the Seal of Confession—meaning, he can never reveal what he has
heard in the confessional. There have even been priests who have died to
protect the seal of the confessional, as was in the case of Saint John
Nepomucene who would not reveal the sins of the Queen even though the King
threatened the priest with death. Indeed Saint John died the martyr’s death,
maintaining the seal of the confessional!
I WILL GO BACK AND REPEAT THE SAME SINS.
Another common temptation that comes from the devil is to convince you that you
will never change, that you will go back and commit the same sin over and over
and really that you are a true “basket-case” a hopeless renegade! Wrong!
Classic moral theology teaches us what is called “The Principle of Graduality”.
In lay-terms this means that it is true that we might go back and commit the
same sin. However, through the grace of the Sacrament of Confession, we will
commit less frequent sins and less grave sins! In other words, gradually, with
the help of God’s grace the sin can be conquered.
THE PRIEST IS TOO BUSY AND I WILL WASTE HIS
TIME! Another trick of the devil, the crafty and wily serpent! On the contrary,
one of the primary functions of the priest is the ministry of Reconciliation.
Saint Paul teaches: “Be reconciled with God. Now is the day of salvation. Put
off the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13: 13) These
were the words that led to the conversion of Saint Augustine as he read these
words in the Garden! A priest is ordained to preach the Word of God, celebrate
the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and to hear confessions and reconcile souls to
God. By hearing confessions the priest becomes a better and more holy priest!
Go to confession and you will help the priest in his own personal
I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO CONFESS, OR THE ACT OF
CONTRITION??? Lame excuse, the devil
behind it! How easy the devil can fill
us with useless fears to prevent us from receiving a torrential downpour of
graces! Tell the priest your situation and he can help you start and finish!
The most important part is confessing your sins, being truly sorry for them,
proposing to avoid the near occasion of sin and trusting in the Infinite mercy
of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. May the prayer that resounds from our hearts
always be JESUS I TRUST IN YOU!!!
I AM TOO EMBARRASSED!!! It is
interesting how the devil works, his crafty and astute and perverted
psychology, but very successful! When the devil tempts us to sin, he takes away
our fears and embarrassment. However, once we sin the devil can fill us with so
much fear that he actually paralyzes us so that we never make it to the
Confessional and therefore become slaves of our sins! Saint Philip Neri was
able to actually see the “devil of embarrassment” that prevented souls from
receiving the abundant graces of the Sacrament of Confession.
10. I CAN CONFESS DIRECTLY
TO GOD, WHY THE PRIEST??? This too is a
typical and frequent tactic of the enemy, the tempter, the liar and murderer
from the beginning, the devil!(Jn. 8) However, we know as Catholics that Jesus
chose priests as the representatives of Christ, the channels of grace and
instruments of reconciliation. This Jesus actually did, instituting the
Sacrament of Confession, that first Easter Sunday night. The Apostles were in
the Upper Room, paralyzed by fear and Jesus came through the wall and said: “Peace
be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. And when He said this,
He breathed on them and said to them: Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive
the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are
retained.” (John 20:21-23) Therefore, to be forgiven mortal sins, Jesus
instituted the Church and the Sacrament of His forgiveness a mercy to forgive
sins and reconcile us to His loving and merciful Heart!
In conclusion, all of us have our
fears, our doubts. All of us have many GHOSTS that appear in our lives to
paralyze us from approaching the merciful and love Jesus. The worst of all sins is that or LACK OF
TRUST in the Infinite MERCY of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Why not overcome the
devil of FEAR right now and make the best confession in your life. Jesus
invites you right now to trust and not
to fear: “Come to me, all who labor and
are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn
from me; for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your
souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mt. 11:28-30)